Twenty Fifth Sunday
Tensions and frustration exist in every walk of life. In that regard, the life of the Church is no different. In recent years I have become acutely aware of tensions between priests about how the priestly life is to exercised.
There are those who have a cultic model of priesthood, who see the priest not just as set apart but separate from others. Those who live their priesthood in this way value strict hierarchy, follow the established rules and view orthodoxy as of primary importance.
There are other priests who see themselves more as servant leaders. These men value flexibility and creativity and view the church as a boat on which there are all different kinds of passengers.
Mindful of Rabbie Burns words ‘to see ourselves as others see us’ I won’t identify myself here but allow you to make your own judgments.
While this is of course a huge simplification of a complex subject it came to mind today because of the second part of Mark’s gospel. Here we heard Jesus instruct the disciples to see themselves not as aloof or different from others but as servants to others. Hearing them competing for the badge of honour he teaches them that true greatness makes itself known through service, being last of all and servant of all, even to the least of their own society. There is nothing aloof or separate about living this call.
What is true of the priest is true also of God’s people. None of us are to see ourselves as better than others, we are not to be aloof from others but to exist and live and love along side others. In doing so we then try to meet the needs of others, even those who are very different to us, welcoming them with open arms and open hearts. When we do so we safeguard the weakest and honour the lowliest.
Priesthood and discipleship are never to be about power or status but about humility and service.