Catholic homily for the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B
Theme: True Leadership.
By: Fr. Justin Nzekwe
When our ambitions to succeed in various areas of life are not motivated by the common good, they will likely degenerate into greed. Jesus had in the previous Sunday overheard his disciples arguing on who is the greatest – Mk 9:34. He discouraged such thought by presenting them the image of a child and servant as models of true greatness. The Gospel Reading of today also presents us with a similar story. The two sons of Zebedee, James and John, had approached Jesus to ask for a very delicate and direct request. They asked Jesus saying: “Allow us to sit one at your right hand and the other at your left in your glory” (Mk. 10:37). In the Matthew’s account of the same story, their mother has to make this request on their behalf. They might have asked their mother to speak on their behalf since their mother is related to the mother of Jesus. They wanted to use the influence of their mother to get a position which they have not labored sufficiently for. They want a special assurance from Jesus that both of them will make it to God’s throne with one of them sitting at the right hand of Jesus and the other at the left. They were not interested if any position will remain for the other ten apostles to occupy. Their request infuriated the other apostles, but Jesus quickly corrected their false impression of leadership saying: “You do not know what you are asking…Anyone who wants to become great among you must be your servant, and anyone who wants to be first among you must be a slave to all. For the Son of Man himself did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:38, 43-45).
Jesus knew the importance of leadership in the Church and in other levels of our lives here on earth as Christians that he placed much emphasis on the theme in the gospels. He continues to remind us, just as he reminded his apostles that our position of authority is simply an opportunity to serve others. The second reading described him as the “high priest which was able to sympathize with our weakness”. Jesus accommodated our weaknesses in order to lift us up. He didn’t abuse the power he has as God while he was on earth, rather he humbled himself to be a servant to all. Jesus is not discouraging us from taking up leadership positions if we have the gift, but we must examine our motives and motivations to see if they are pure and selfless. If our motive is for the service of others, then it should be encouraged. This motive must be reviewed from time to time in order to put any selfish desire under control. Jesus is inviting us today was we celebrate the mission Sunday to take up the leadership position in our communities as missionaries. We are invited to begin the process of conversion and re-conversion in our various communities and families, not only through our words, but also through our lives. Preach to people about the importance of coming to masses especially on Sundays. Teach them the importance of obeying and respecting God with love even more than we should respect the civil authorities. We ask God in this holy mass to grant us the grace of humility, and to enable us to serve him with sincerity and love.
Fr. Justin Nzekwe