Who’s On Last?

Mark 10:35-45 – The 21st Sunday of Ordinary Time – for October 21, 2012

“…But Jesus said to them, you do not know what you are asking…” (Mark 10:38)

G. K. Chesterton, the British writer, curmudgeon and ponderer said it best, “Just going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in your garage makes you a car.”

I claim to be Christian, but just barely. And I’m not a car. Not. Not. Not.

It’s too easy, whether I look back a week or a decade, to see how I’ve failed to follow in the path of the Prince of Peace. How many times have I . . .

Eagerly listened to gossip about someone and passed along the hurt or humor about another to fellow tattletalers?

Stared at my phone’s screen, with that person’s number displayed on caller ID, and permitted my digitalized voice to invite them to leave a message I might listen to later?

Said yes when I should’ve said no; said no when I should’ve said yes?

Or said nothing when any number of simple words—thank-you, I’ll pray for you, I’ll help you—might’ve transformed my day from isolation to involvement?

Would you prefer more specificity with some of my, er, indiscretions and foibles? I’ll bet you would! But does it matter? Even if I time-stamped a moment when gossiping about another or babbled in detail about why I didn’t answer the phone because that person called, I’d likely disguise the depths of my vanity or frailty.

Therefore, thank God for the Bible! It scoops out heaping portions of specificity. Instead of talking about me, I can mention James and John, two of Jesus’ stalwart disciples. They were also known as the “sons of Zebedee” or (this nickname delights me) the “sons of thunder.” In the Gospel of Mark’s 10th chapter, the thunderous duo sidle up to Jesus and ask, “Grant to us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.”

In other words, Zebedee’s boys wanted to go to the head of the class, be the first in line and guarantee they could grab the best seat when the glory train pulled into town.

Could they be the Abbot and Costello of the Bible, doing their own version of “Who’s On First?”

How I love the Gospel showing me two of the church’s future saints treating the Son of Humanity like he was a holy ticket scalper.

Me first! Continue reading →