The apostles of Jesus were very interesting characters. They were from various backgrounds and had different occupations prior to their call to become part of Jesus’ inner circle. Some were fishermen, some tax collectors, some zealots and the like; none of them had a refined scholarly background. Jesus called and chose them to be His closest companions and collaborators. For about three years, they lived with Him and learned at His feet. Jesus had a style of teaching the people in parables, but He cultivated the habit of interpreting and explaining these parables and metaphors with His apostles. He would later discard parables and speak “plainly” to them after Peter’s confession. According to St. Mark, the first thing He revealed to them was the imminent events of His Passion, death and resurrection. The reaction of the apostles to this teaching was unfortunately selfish and disappointingly insensitive. Imagine their Lord talking about leaving them through scandalous death on the cross and all the apostles could think was to argue who among them was the greatest and most likely to replace Jesus. By doing this, the apostles proved to be no different from the “wicked” whom the first reading tells us planned evil against the “just one” for daring to reproach them on account of their transgressions. The “wicked” sinned through vicious connivance, the apostles erred by neglect and insensitivity. Although they had no physical or emotional help to off er the Divine Redeemer, they could have at least shared a sober silence to transmit a solemn understanding of the Lord’s mood at the very least.
Like the apostles, we often allow innate selfishness to control our wills. Many of the decisions we make, and even the relationships we keep, are done only after we answer the question: “What is in it for me?” Spouses are insensitive to each other’s feelings and needs, grown children can neglect aged parents, parents may compare a particular child to another, leaders may make insensitive decisions and the governed may offer unfair criticism. We have to make sincere eff orts to tame our selfishness and consciously act from altruistic motives. A true disciple of Christ should strive to be dead to self and alive to the needs and feelings of others. In response to their evident insensitivity, Jesus revolutionized the idea of greatness. The one who wishes to be great must become the servant of all; greatness is no longer to be measured by possession and earthly accomplishments, but by quality and consistent sacrificial service to others.
Let us pray, beloved Brethren, for the Divine assistance we desperately need to tame our selfish instincts. May all leaders imitate Jesus’ example of servant leadership and may we all seek to serve and not to be served.
God bless you.