Late posting today - been out with my Deacs for a half day reflection day... and it's been really good :-)
Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29
Mark 10:32-34, 46-52
Of these three, the one I want to focus on is the Mark, or more specifically the gap...
They were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them; they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. He took the twelve aside again and began to tell them what was to happen to him, saying, "See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death; then they will hand him over to the Gentiles; they will mock him, and spit upon him, and flog him, and kill him; and after three days he will rise again."
James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, "Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you." And he said to them, "What is it you want me to do for you?" And they said to him, "Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory." But Jesus said to them, "You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?" They replied, "We are able." Then Jesus said to them, "The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared." When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. So Jesus called them and said to them, "You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognise as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many."
They came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, "Son of David, have mercy on me!" Jesus stood still and said, "Call him here." And they called the blind man, saying to him, "Take heart; get up, he is calling you." So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. Then Jesus said to him, "What do you want me to do for you?" The blind man said to him, "My teacher, let me see again." Jesus said to him, "Go; your faith has made you well." Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.
Why, I ask myself, do the compilers of the lectionary omit the words I've changed to grey? And why does the writer of Mark include them at that place? In Matthew's account, the question is put in the mouth of the mother of the twin disciples; it is she who seeks status rather than they. Otherwise, the two accounts are broadly similar, though not identical. So why do the lectionary writers skip past this? The short answer is that I don't know! Perhaps it hints too strongly towards Maundy Thursday for thie purposes? I am left puzzled and intrigued, if none the wiser.
Tomorrow we begin the last stage of our journey as we mark Palm Sunday (or Passion Sunday for RC churches), and as we do so we have these words ringing in our ears "... whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many."
Perhaps, Lord, we don't want to read these words of the twin brothers
Because in them we recognise something of ourselves
Perhaps we are imagining our heavenly reward,
The status you will afford us
The resounding 'well done good and faithful servant'
That assures us our lives have been well spent.
Perhaps, Lord, we don't want to hear words about service or lowliness
Because in them we recognise your voice speaking to us
Perhaps we fear the toil of servant-discipleship
The unrewarded, unrewarding labour of the lowly
The lack of recognition of anything we do
The lack of assurance that anything we do is worth a fig
Lord, as we skip over troublesome words
Dispel our blindness towards what you want to show us
Our deafness to your voice
And lead us onwards in your service
Day by day