Daily Reflection
May 29th, 2002
Roc O'Connor, S.J.
Theology Department and Campus Ministry
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.

1 Peter 1:18-25
Psalm 147:12-13, 14-15, 19-20
Mark 10:32-45

"Realize that you were ransomed from your futile conduct, handed on by your ancestors... not with perishable things like silver or gold but with the precious Blood of Christ...."

What does it mean to live a life "ransomed from futile conduct handed on by our ancestors?"

Witness this request made by the two brothers.  What does it sound like?  Notice the reaction of the other disciples to that remarkable request made by James & John.  Does that sound like futile conduct?  You betcha.

Where does that longing to be special spring from?  Where might that need to be better than others come from?  Where could that demand that one be given at least "what one deserves" arise from?  Why is it so difficult to avoid ending sentences with prepositions?

Each of us can answer those questions in the silence of our hearts.  But, notice this: how do you see Jesus' response.  For a very long time I've had the sense that he was upset with the disciples and responded in frustration: "Don't you get it?"  But, recall how Jesus had talked about the way we need to receive the little children.  Does he recommend exasperation?  I don't think so.

Maybe we can read his words as coming from a place of compassion for his 'little children' as he says, "Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all."

In other words, who is the one who is actually exasperated?  Some of us make 'preemptive strikes' on our own lives, criticizing and tearing at ourselves as a way to ward off the possible criticism of others.

Maybe Jesus sees this moment of unabashedly childish behavior as the revelation of that place of vulnerability in the hearts of his disciples that warrants a firm and compassionate word of direction.  Maybe, then, his compassion can liberate us from centuries of 'futile conduct.'

Teach me your ways, O God, and lead me in the paths of your mercy.

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