29th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Gospel – Mark 10:35-45

Are Ya Listening?

Shopping in the Old City

A few years ago, a group of salesmen went to a regional sales convention in Chicago. The convention lasted all week, and all the salesmen had assured their wives that they would be home in plenty of time for Friday night’s dinner.  As they hurried to the airport to catch their return flight, they rushed down the airport’s corridor with their briefcases in hand. In their rush, one of these salesmen inadvertently kicked over a table which held a display of apples.  Apples flew everywhere. Without stopping or looking back, they all continued running so they would make their plane. All but one!

He stopped after running a few more yards, took a deep breath, and experienced a twinge of compassion for the girl whose apple stand had been overturned.  He told his buddies to go on without him, waved goodbye, told one of them to call his wife when they arrived at their home destination and explain his taking a later flight. Then he returned to the terminal where the apples were all over the terminal floor. He was glad he did.

The 16-year-old girl running the apple cart was totally blind. She was softly crying, tears running down her cheeks in frustration, and at the same time helplessly groping for her spilled produce as the crowd swirled about her, no one stopping and no one to care for her plight.

The salesman knelt on the floor with her, gathered up the apples, put them back on the table and helped organize her display. As he did this, he noticed that many of the apples had become battered and bruised; these he set aside in another basket. When he had finished, he pulled out his wallet and said to the girl, “Here, please take this $40 for the damage we did. Are you okay?”

She nodded through her tears.  He continued on with, “I hope we didn’t spoil your day too badly.”

As the salesman started to walk away, the bewildered blind girl called out to him, “Mister…..”

He paused and turned to look back into her blind eyes.  She continued, “Are you Jesus?”

You have to wonder sometimes – how can we miss or completely ignore what is right in front of our eyes!  How can we be so blind or in such a state of denial that we are focused on something else, something ultimately trivial?

That is what happens in today’s Gospel.  For the THIRD TIME, Jesus has revealed to His disciples that they are going up to Jerusalem where He will be arrested, condemned, mocked, tortured and crucified!  No flowery language, no story, just the simple blunt words!  You would think they would all be horrified, terrified.  And yet James and John jump in and ask for a favor.   When You come into Your glory, can we sit, one on the right and one on the left of You?  No signs of sadness at Jesus’ words, no words of fear, no attempt to talk Him out of going to Jerusalem. Seemingly blinded by ambition, they are in complete denial about the meaning of Jesus’ words. You have to wonder about Jesus’ reaction.  Were you even listening?  Did you hear what I said?  I suppose we have to give the other disciples some credit for becoming indignant at James and John for their boldness and ambition.  Or were they just upset that they asked Jesus first??

Such a situation, unfortunately, is not foreign to us.  Most of us have seen something like this at work.  Someone so intent on their own ambition and advancement that they stab others in the back in order to get that promotion or pay raise!  So focused on themselves that they refuse to see what is right in front of them! So consumed with ambition, they lose sight of what’s really important.  Or maybe we did pass that little girl on the street who was bowed down and crying.  Did we stop and offer help or did we keep on walking, our eyes looking straight ahead and refusing to acknowledge their presence much less their need!

It is up to Jesus to remind the disciples that His mission has nothing to do with power or thrones.  It is a mission of service to others!  It is dedication to a life of sacrifice and denial of self for the love of our neighbor!

Great Spirit, help me today to treat everyone as if they were You!



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