Angelus Address by Pope Francis for Mission Sunday 2018
FROM THE MENTALITY OF THE WORLD TO THAT OF GOD
Today's Gospel page (cf. Mk 10: 35-45) describes Jesus who, once again and with great patience, tries to correct his disciples by converting them from the mentality of the world to that of God. The opportunity is given to him by the brothers James and John, two of the very first that Jesus met and called to follow him. By now they have come a long way with him and belong to the group of the twelve Apostles. Therefore, while they are on their way to Jerusalem, where the disciples are anxiously hoping that Jesus, on the occasion of Easter, will finally establish the Kingdom of God, the two brothers become courageous, approach and address their request to the Master: « Grant us to sit, in your glory, one on your right hand and one on your left "(v. 37).
THE CAUSE OF THE KINGDOM
Jesus knows that James and John are animated by great enthusiasm for him and for the cause of the Kingdom, but he also knows that their expectations and their zeal are polluted, by the spirit of the world. Therefore he answers: "You do not know what you are asking" (v. 38). And while they spoke of "thrones of glory" on which to sit next to Christ the King, He speaks of a "cup" to drink, of a "baptism" to be received, that is, of his passion and death. James and John, always aiming for the privileged hoped, say of impulse: yes, "we can"! But, even here, they do not really realise what they say. Jesus announces that from his cup they will drink, and his baptism they will receive, that is, that they too, like the other Apostles, will participate in his cross, when their time comes. However - concludes Jesus - "to sit on my right or on my left is not for me to grant it; it is for those for whom it was prepared "(v.40). How to say: now follow me and learn the way of love "at a loss", and the heavenly Father will think about it. The way of love is always "at a loss", because to love means to leave aside selfishness, self-referentiality, to serve others.
AN AWKWARD THRONE
Jesus then realizes that the other ten Apostles are angry with James and John, thus proving to have the same worldly mentality. And this offers him the inspiration for a lesson that applies to Christians of all time, even for us. He says: "You know that those who are considered rulers of nations dominate over them and their leaders oppress them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wants to be great among you will be your servant, and whoever wants to be the first among you will be a slave to all "(v. 42-44). It is the rule of the Christian. The message of the Master is clear: while the great of the Earth build themselves "thrones" for their own power, God chooses an awkward throne, the cross, from which he reigns giving life: "The Son of Man - says Jesus - is not come to be served.
THE PATH OF SERVICE
The way of service is the most effective antidote against the disease of the search for the first places; it is medicine for climbers, this search for the first places, which infects so many human contexts and does not spare even the Christians, the people of God, even the ecclesiastical hierarchy. Therefore, as disciples of Christ, we welcome this Gospel as a call to conversion, to witness with courage and generosity a Church that bows at the feet of the last, to serve them with love and simplicity. May the Virgin Mary, who fully and humbly adhered to the will of God, help us to joyfully follow Jesus on the path of service, the high road that leads to Heaven.
Almighty ever-living God,
grant that we may always conform our will to yours
and serve your majesty in sincerity of heart.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
GOSPEL READING: MARK 10:35-45