Sybil 2008

Gospel text

Mark 10: 35-45

35 James and John, the sons of Zebedee, went to Jesus to ask him, "Master, we want you to do for us what we ask of you". 36 He answered them, "What do you want me to do for you?" 37 They said, "Give us to share your authority when the extraordinary quality of your being manifests itself". 38 Jesus said to them, "You do not realize what you are asking. Are you able to drink from the cup that I drink? Or to dive into the same baptism in which I dive?" 39 They answered him, "We are able". Jesus replies to them: "The cup which I drink, you will drink there. The baptism in which I dive, you will dive into it. 40 But as to share my authority, it is not for me to give it to you, it is for those to whom God has reserved it". Hearing these words, the Twelve began to be angry with James and John. 42 Then Jesus summons them to say to them, "You know that those who are considered to be in charge of the nations submit them under their yoke, and the great ones of this world make their power over them. 43 Among you it will not be so. On the contrary, if someone aspires to become an important personality, he will serve all. 44 And if anyone aspires to be a leader, he will be the servant of all. 45 For the new Adam did not come to be served, but to serve and give his life as a price to pay for the liberation of a large number of people".


Strength and authority can not reach the heart

Gospel commentary - Homily

Authority, a limited path?

I was at a meeting in my workplace. Barely five minutes had elapsed, the computer guru interrupted the discussions to make us feel that our thoughts were useless until they took into consideration a certain number of parameters, that he knew all the files and that our initiatives were going nowhere. A colleague then whispered in my ear, "It's important for him to first make him feel important and control the decisions. It will be better after". Is this not the echo of our legitimate desire to control our lives and the aftermath of events? We find the same attitude in many of our leaders. Otherwise, how can country presidents feel the need to change the constitution to extend their mandate? Only their authority can save the country from decay. And this perception and behavior applies to both the secular world and the religious world.

It would seem like a similar situation that the Gospel of today is addressing. James and John ask Jesus to share his authority when he leads his Kingdom. At the time of Jesus, the Jewish people dreamed of restoring the kingdom of King David that left such a strong impression. But as Mark writes his Gospel, what is at stake is no longer to restore the kingdom of David, but more simply to lay the foundations of the young Church. Through the testimony of the evangelist, there is tension in the Church: backstage games seem to exist to occupy important positions. Not very edifying, to the point that Matthew, writing after Mark, feels the need to put all these ambitions on the account of the mother of James and John. But it is extremely important to recognize that this is a reflection of our humanity. It is not only a reflection of our need to justify our existence and our value, but it also reflects our need to control events in order to carry out our projects. We know what is good for us and others, why not have the consequent authority to do all this good?

To understand the answer of Jesus, we must indulge in a play of imagination through this story. A man was destined for a bright future. PhD in biochemistry. A prestigious university offers him a research chair. A multinational company offers him a managerial position and a salary that can not be declined. But these offers involve long hours of work and many trips abroad. But he has a young son he is looking after alone, as his wife died the year before in a car accident. The grandparents of the child are not far and do a good job, but he wants to stay close to his son. So he makes the decision to accept a position of chemistry teacher at the high school level: he will not be far from home and can watch over his son. This bright future, no doubt his son will havea chance to enjoy it? The years go by. The father remarries, but will not have any other children. His son chooses engineering and enters university. The father is a little disappointed not to see him follow in his footsteps, but hey ... university is university. But after a few months, the son announces: "I will not be an engineer. With a friend, I started a small house renovation and repair business of all kinds. One can easily imagine the immense disappointment of the father. His care for his son during all these years was it useless? These thoughts will accompany him until the day a serious cardiovascular accident condemns him to retirement. In the meantime, his wife died as a result of violent cancer, and her son had two children. It is at this moment that his son approaches him to say: "I know that you feel alone. I built a big house. There is a place for you. Come live with us. I want you to know that I love you, that I know what you did for me."

There are realities that are not transmitted authoritatively, such as love. And its transmission has a price, like that of sometimes letting go things that are important to us, a career that looks bright, for example. But we know that by following this path, we follow that of Jesus on which the Epistle to the Philippians writes: "He who is of divine condition did not consider it a prey to grasp to be the equal of God. But he stripped himself, taking the condition of servant ... becoming obedient unto death ... "Because Jesus took this path, two thousand years later he still lives in our hearts, and this link has become indestructible. This is the face of God that he wants to reflect, not that of an authoritarian being who crushes us with his strength. And this is the way he teaches us as a disciple. Do we want to take the time to listen to it?


-André Gilbert, Gatineau, July 2009