Sunday, October 18, 2015

Jesus Shatters our Worldview

Twenty-Ninth Sunday of Ordinary Time     18 October 2015      Deacon John McMullen

James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.”

He replied, “What do you wish [me] to do for you?”

They answered him, “Grant that in your glory we may sit one at your right and the other at your left.”

Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I drink or be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?"

"We can,” they answered.

Jesus Shatters His Disciples Worldview

The disciples just don’t get it, do they?

Jesus has repeatedly taught the disciples – and us – that the Son of Man must suffer, be rejected and be killed, and rise after three days. But the disciples didn’t understand him.

Jesus shattered their worldview.

And for the past weeks we have also witnessed ambition and jealousy among the disciples while Christ keeps explaining how they must die to selfishness and take up their cross.

Peter rebukes Jesus for mentioning suffering as a pathway of discipleship; Peter wanted Jesus to be a military messiah that would rout the Romans. But Jesus says no. It’s about the Cross.

Jesus shattered Peter’s worldview.

Peter James, and John witness Jesus in his Transfigured glory. They likely felt as if they had a privileged place among Jesus’ followers.

The disciples are discouraged when they are unable to perform an exorcism. And then they become upset that other followers of Jesus who could drive out demons.

The twelve become jealous and begin to pout and tell Jesus to stop the other disciples from performing good works.

Imagine their envy. They admit that they are jealous because those disciples of Jesus are not following them; they try and cloak their envy by saying that these others do not follow them. But the truth is out.

The nameless disciples were following Jesus and that is what gave them the authority to drive out the demons! That had to blow a hole in the twelve disciples’ egos.

But the twelve argue among themselves which of them was the greatest. They want to be seen! The boys have it all wrong about leadership in the kingdom of God. And these men are the first bishops in our church. [Just sayin’.] The Twelve have issues. They were so focused on themselves, their own importance, their own AUTHORITY!

And Jesus shatters their worldview.

The disciples fell for the temptations of the devil. They wanted to preserve everything they had, they wanted positions of power and wanted to be popular. They wanted glory, but they did not want the Cross.

Just last week we heard about the rich young man was possessed by his possessions and wealth and couldn’t let go of them in order to follow Christ. Then Jesus’ twelve disciples become worried about what they’re going to get out of following Jesus.


This sounds way too familiar. What’s in this for me? What about me!! Me, me, me! Me, myself, and I – the unholy trinity of selfishness.

Well, today’s gospel is another example of just how dull-edged the disciples were.

Believe it or not, James and John approach Jesus with a request. "Teacher, grant that in your glory we may sit at your right and left."

You read Mark’s gospel and see the stupidity jump off the pages. Was their request coming from selfish motives or a sense of self-importance? Or both?

James and John did not understand the cross, so they wanted to ignore it and go for the glory instead.

When the other ten disciples heard this, they became angry at James and John. Ah, there’s nothing like pride, envy, greed, lust for power, and jealous anger

Jesus said: “You HAVE NO IDEA WHAT you are asking.”

Jesus shatters their worldview.

Some of you might say the same of marriage or a particular profession or vocation in life you have chosen. If I knew then what I know now….

Trust me, I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I allowed myself to be ordained as a deacon. If I knew then what I know now….

James and John and the others may have been feeling that tension in their own lives. I can see Jesus shaking his head. He loved them, don’t get me wrong, but they weren’t the brightest pumpkins in the patch.

Some of them, like Peter, James and John may have been a little soft in the gourd, if you know what I mean. But the Lord still worked great miracles through them.

That’s great news. But he can only do that if we humble ourselves.

Those in authority sometimes lord it over others. But it cannot be that way with us. Rather, whoever wishes to be first will be the last.


Jesus shatters our worldview.

In the U.S., the idea of success is often based on the need to prove that “I am better than you.” Sometime relationships are based on competition and the need to win fights or arguments [or debates], and dominate others through arguing or violence.

The idea of being last in order to win is an absurd idea according to our world. 


But Jesus bore our pains and sorrows, endured our sufferings; was pierced through, nailed to the cross, yet by his wounds we are healed.

So Jesus’ vision for us as a community is one where the rich, powerful, and privileged reach down to help the poor, powerless, and unfortunate. Jesus calls us to be His Church, Members of His Body, where the weak support the strong, and the strong support the weak!

To be first and the greatest according to Christ is to serve the needs of others. Jesus’ challenge is a call for us to “servant leadership”.

Jesus reassembles our worldview.

Leadership in the kingdom is not about power, it’s not about possessions, it’s not about popularity. It’s about emptying ourselves so we can serve others in love.

As I look out, I see devoted, faithful parishioners who so often just show up to do the work necessary for our many minstries; the ladies who quilt, the lectors, the cantors, the servers, the members of who provide meals for those mourning the loss of a loved one and visit the sick and homebound, the many volunteers who assist in the RCIA, the St Vincent de Paul, the parish pastoral Council members, the choir, musicians, and many other volunteers, and the list goes on and on.

But our ministry can sometimes seem invisible. And we don’t always want to be invisible, do we? We want to be seen and heard.

But isn’t that what Jesus meant when he called us to be salt for the earth and the light of the world? Salt disappears once we put it on our food and it serves to bring out the best flavors. So we are called to bring out the best in others as we disappear, so to speak.

Jesus also called us to be the light of the world. Yet light is also invisible; light itself is that which illuminates all things; light enables us to see things, but we don’t actually see light itself. So, again, we get to be invisible as we help others shine.

In many ways you are the invisible members of the church that make this parish work.

So when we quit focusing only on ourselves, and take up our cross, then we will view the world through the eyes of Jesus Christ. He will reassemble our worldview. And we will realize that Jesus has become our worldview. We will only see Jesus

And in taking up the cross and becoming a servant, then we will receive glory.

And then we won’t be arguing about who is the greatest, or who is number one or number two, or at the right or the left.… instead we will seek to embrace the stranger, and love our neighbor as ourselves, being the light of Christ, willing to disappear from view so that others may shine. And therein lies the mystery and the glory of the cross.