29th Sunday: Servant Leadership-  Mk 10:35-45 or 10:42-45

The disciples, James and John, came to Jesus with a request: “Grant that in your glory we may sit one at your right hand and one at your left.”  This shows their lack of understanding of true leadership.  They were looking for positions of power, authority, and prestige.   They were thinking that leadership comes from where they sit rather than how they serve with humbleness and humility.

In our own lifetimes, we have witnessed the greatest people, like St. Mother Teresa and Pope Francis.  At the canonization Mass of Mother Teresa, Pope Francis said in his homily, “Mother Teresa was a great servant of the poor and the church, and the world.  Her life was a testimony to the dignity and the privilege of humble service.   As a real mother to the poor, she bent down to those suffering various forms of poverty.  Her greatness came in her ability to give without counting the cost and to give “until it hurts.”

Jesus also made it clear to his disciples that “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but rather to serve.”  For this reason, Jesus calls His followers to be disciples, not of privilege and power, but rather of self-giving service to others, and even of willingness to suffer for others.   Also, Jesus wanted to teach the disciples by asking, “Are you able to drink the cup which I drink?” For Jesus, this cup was the cup of suffering and the cross, the cup of sacrifice, the cup of commitment, the cup of self-giving, and the cup of service; these are the cups that are the hallmarks of Christian discipleship.  Christian leadership should be based on simplicity of life and humble service!

Let me share with you a meaningful story:  Many years ago, a man was riding on a horse, and he saw that some soldiers were trying to move a heavy piece of wood without success.  The military officer was standing and watching, while the soldiers were struggling with this heavy wood. The horse rider asked the military officer, “Why are you not helping them?”  The officer replied, “I am in charge, I only give the orders.”  The rider got off from the horse, went to the soldiers, and helped them; and with his help, they moved the wood.  The rider quietly got back on his horse, went to the officer, and said, “The next time your men need help, asks the Commander-in-Chief.”  After the rider left, the officer and his soldiers found out that the rider was The President, George Washington.

The moral message of the story is very clear:  Success and humility go hand in hand.  In our lives, simplicity and humility are two hallmarks of greatness.  Let us experience God’s unconditional love and compassion in our everyday lives and show the same unconditional love and compassion to others, especially in our own homes and communities.   Life becomes harder for us when we live for others, but it also becomes richer and happier.  St. Mother Teresa said: “Life is service and service is joy.”

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