“And the Oscar goes to……!” “And the winner is…….!” Competitions, prizes, winners, No.1s, the “Casting Couch”, the Best in show and so it goes! And we love it! So how do we make sense of this story in our Gospel today! Yes, if you want to be a winner, get to the top, you have to sacrifice, you have to work hard. But how far is it acceptable to go? Where is the dividing line? Is that goal worth sacrificing integrity, decency, honesty? Never mind love? A World without Competition, without prizes, is it actually possible? Would it work?
Or is it more about a balance, not letting the need, the desire to be the winner, to be No.1 get out of control? But who decides where that dividing line is? There are so many examples of people being betrayed, being ruthless, all in the name of getting to the top, where they want to be!
James & John in our gospel compete for the top positions in the “Kingdom”? But Whose Kingdom? What kind of Kingdom? The unidentified person in our first reading from Isaiah, part of the ‘Servant Song’, has gone through extreme suffering, mostly at the hands of other people. The vision makes clear that this person has nothing to make amends for. They have lived a life dedicated to their Master. This is vision of what God might achieve through his servant and it helped the New Testament writers to understand what Jesus was about and to understand the Church’s vocation. It has also helped the Jewish people to understand their own suffering.
This week read this gospel again and again and the passage from Isaiah. Pray about them. Challenge yourself about where you stand on this and what is important for you! Does your understanding of the Kingdom of God match what Jesus says about it!