Monday, March 26, 2012

Monday of the Fifth Week of Lent

Psalm 35Exodus 4:10-20(21-26)27-311 Corinthians 14:1-19Mark 9:30- 41

In the gospel reading for today from the Daily Office, the Disciples are heading down a wrong path, something which happens frequently in Mark. They are arguing about who is the greatest among them. In response, Jesus admonishes them by saying, “Whoever wants to be first must place himself last of all and be the servant of all” (Good News Bible).

This is a message we have all heard in church but we might easily overlook how incredibly radical it is. In trying to come to terms with Jesus’ words I can’t help thinking of a very different expression: “Nice guys finish last.” This cheerful message is generally ascribed to Leo Durocher, the long-ago manager of the New York Giants baseball team, but I think it is much more than one man’s opinion in the context of sports. It is an underlying theme in how affairs of the world are conducted much of the time.

Throughout the New Testament a contrast is often drawn that is sometimes seen as a contrast between earth and heaven, or “flesh and spirit.” But at a deeper level it is really drawn between the ways of the world and the ways of God’s kingdom here on earth. Christians who try to “be the servant of all” will often find themselves swimming against the tide of how the world operates. As we think about this period of Lent, a cynical view could assert that Jesus “finished last” by going meekly to his own death. And yet, in truth, it was the greatest victory of all, overcoming the worst that the world could do, defeating the powers of sin and death. Thanks be to God.

— John Zuck

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