Weekly Homily From Father Jim Hogan For October 21, 2012

Isaiah 53:10-11     • Hebrews 4:14-16  • Mark 10:35-45      29 Ordinary B ‘12

Bumper stickers often are a source of wisdom. At a stoplight on Orange Street I noticed the back of the car in front of me was wallpapered with bumper stickers. As I quickly scanned all those messages, I found one that was the crack through which I found my way into this gospel. This was the message on that bumper sticker.

“When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.” **

“When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.”

Mark wrote his gospel because of problems within his community. Apparently some had failed to grasp the self-sacrificing love that characterized the life and teaching of Jesus. The desire to be recognized as “first” or “most important” is quite universal and seems engrained in our DNA. We refer to such desire as “ambition.” Mark cleverly weaves a fabric of stories intending to address the problems created by ambition within his community. There are two kinds of ambition.

I see an example of ego-free ambition in the 14 year-old-girl in a Pakistani hospital. Her teachers awakened her ambition to become a doctor in order to help people. Then she wanted to become a political leader to give positive leadership to her country. She was put in the hospital by a gunshot. I want to be the best homilist I can be so those listening to me will find a way to live in Christ more fully. You are ambitious when you seek excellence in your occupation or profession. Non-ego centered ambition is good.

Ego-centered ambition is problematic. It is about gaining power, privilege or prestige for myself. Inevitably ego-centered ambition harms others and disrupts community. “The sons of Zebedee came to Jesus and said to him, ‘Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.’ ‘What do you wish me to do for you?’ ‘Grant that in your glory we may sit one at your right and the other at your left’.”

James and John wanted to have the highest rank and to wear the fancy clothes in the Jesus project. They wanted Jesus to place “them” over “the others.” That is ego-centered ambition. It fails to build community and inevitably harms community.

Mark tells us “When the ten heard this, they became indignant at James and John.” It seems all of them had the same aspirations and planned to make the same request. They also were infected with ego-centered ambition. James and John simply beat them to the punch. Ego-centered ambition indicates that someone has failed to understand Jesus and/or his teaching.

In response to ego-centered ambition Mark’s Jesus says, “the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Jesus of Nazareth was an exceptional individual. He believed his life’s mission was to serve; not to be served. He came to give us life, his life. When James and John ask to sit beside Jesus, he asks them about their willingness to suffer for others. He asks them [and us] to imitate him, to become one with him. Jesus is the pattern, the model we are to imitate.

There is nothing more opposed to the Spirit of Jesus and the “reign of God” than blatantly striving for privilege, power or prestige. Our world is broken and Jesus was not interested in a top-down power structure. He expects his companions to reach out to others in whatever their need, to bear their burdens and empower them.

The bumper sticker on the back of that car was the crack through which I found my way into this gospel.

“When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.”

Allow that to seep into your soul.

“When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.”

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