October 18, 2012
Reflection on the Sunday's readings: Daniel
Daniel's previous reflections
Do not disappoint us, please! - Mark 10:35-45
Come take a walk with me.
Let's pretend we're just two people and
You're not better than me.
I'd like to ask you some questions if we can speak honestly.
do you feel when you see all the homeless on the street?
Who do you pray for at night before you go to sleep?
What do you feel when you look in the mirror?
Are you proud?
do you sleep while the rest of us cry?
How do you dream when a mother has no chance to say goodbye?
How do you walk with your head held high?
Can you even look me in the eye
And tell me why?"
are the lyrics of the controversial song of Pink written in 2007 as an open
letter to George W. Bush. The song was deemed 'politically incorrect' and could
not be released in the United States. "You know that those who are regarded
as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise
authority over them" (Mark 10:42). Yes. We also know that. Our leaders lord
over us as well; some in a straightforward way, some in a subtle way. Some
impose their will on us; some train our minds to 'willingly' accept their will.
But, Jesus adds something to this obvious fact: "Not so with you"
story begins with John and James asking for a favor, "Let one of us sit at
your right and the other at your left in your glory" (Mark 10:37). The
favor is refused. The ten others get mad and the quarrel is about to begin, when
Jesus intervenes spelling out the way to true greatness: participation in his
cross by drinking the cup of suffering and experiencing the baptism of
martyrdom. Then, Jesus presents a new model of leadership within a Christian
community, a servant-leader. "Whoever wants to become great among you must
be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all" (Mark
a course on the Mystery of the Church,
a professor was presenting six different models: church as an institution,
church as communion, church as sacrament, church as community of disciples,
church as herald, and church as servant. He thoroughly explained each of the
models, stressing their positive and negative aspects. Then, he told the
students to choose two models that appealed to them and dismiss one model that
in their view is not viable for our times. The students voted the church as
servant and as community of disciples, and dismissed the model of the church as
institution. What were their arguments? The world longs for a church that takes
its communitarian dimension seriously by showing the values of equality and
unity; the world wants to see a Christian community that strives to follow Jesus
by taking seriously his exemplary way of life and his teaching; and the world
needs a church that is a proponent of social change, and fosters such values as
peace, justice, and care for creation. They dismissed the institutional model
stressing its concern with its own preservation, claims of possessing the
fullness of truth, and creating within itself two groups: one that governs,
teaches, and sanctifies, and one - majority - that is governed, taught, and
so with you" said Jesus. How do we fair in this matter? Martin Luther King
in his Letter from Birmingham Jail
wrote about his great disappointment with the church and its leadership.
"So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an
uncertain sound. So often it is an arch-defender of the status quo. Far from
being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the
average community is consoled by the church's silent -- and often even vocal --
sanction of things as they are." Have our churches adapted a lord-leader
model of leadership? Have we allowed ourselves to be conformed to the world
instead of making a difference in the world? What form of leadership do we have in
our churches? Where are those leaders who like Jesus prefer to serve than to be
Hindu on August 24, 2007 ran a story
about Baji Mohammed, a Muslim and one of India's last living freedom fighters.
He is in his 90s. He is a satyagrahi, practicing a nonviolent resistance. He was
many times ridiculed, beaten, and imprisoned, and yet there is no trace of
hatred in him, a gentle old smiling man. Asked about the greatest moment of his
life, he spoke about his encounter with Mahatma. It was the example of Gandhi
that inspired and kept him faithful to the idea of nonviolence. Can Christian
leaders inspire us to give up our comfort zones, privileges, and securities, and
strive for a better world?
The judgment of God is upon the church, King continues. "If today's church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the church has turned into outright disgust."
That is also true for the twenty-first century. While the early Christians were
proponents of change within Roman society, we - the church of today - are
proponents of 'let's wait and see'. While others oppose unbridled and unjust
capitalism, fight for human rights, climb the roof-tops of huge power plants, or
expose devastating effects of mining and oil industries, we wait and see. Only
when the battle is almost over, then we benevolently endorse the cause. But when
the struggle exposes our active or passive role in supporting unjust structures,
we cry 'foul' unwilling to accept our contribution in maintaining the status
quo, unwilling to repent.
one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory." Yes.
They/We love it, sitting at the right and left of Christ, the Pantocrator, and
be lord with him. But to serve rather then to be served is another matter. No
wonder that the Gospel of Mark is so disappointed with the Twelve. No matter how
many times Jesus was outlining the way to a true greatness through participation
in his cross, they always failed to grasp its meaning. No wonder that many
people today, particularly the young ones, are so disappointed with leaders of
our churches. No matter how much they search far the marks of true greatness -
service even up to the point of martyrdom - they find infatuation with power and
Letter from Birmingham Jail - written
on April 16, 1963 - inspired and continues to inspire many people to oppose
injustice. Some Protestant pastors and scholars even suggested to include it
within the Canon of the New Testament. But, the impact of this letter does not
come from the words alone. The entire life of King bore testimony to his
following of Christ in the service of the poor and marginalized black people of
American Society. Where are such leaders today? To whom shall our young
generation go for inspiration? Who will walk them towards through greatness
along the path of suffering for worthy cause and baptism of martyrdom?
know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them,
and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you" The
lyrics of Pink's song can be dedicated to any leader of our world. We would love
to talk to them like equals. We could ask them why they are making policies that
are destructive to humanity and the world, why they spend more money on arms
then on education and health care, why they fight wars without our consent. We
could also ask them why they decide for us in what to believe, what to accept as
the full truth, and what should be our role in society and/or religious
communities. And we could finally tell them to stop lecturing us, but to listen
to our aspirations and begin inspiring us with their lives. "For the Son of
Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom of
many" (Mark 10:45).