Opening Question: Have you or someone you know ever won an election? What was the post or office? Who did you or that person represent?
First Reading: Isaiah 53:10-11
Jennifer was popular in her class. She was friendly and nice; she went out her way to help others. When the time came for class elections came, Jennifer ran for class president. Everyone knew she would win.
Three weeks after the election, Jennifer was down. “Being class president is hard work,” she complained to her teacher, “I like to please everyone, but, with school work and sports and chores at home, I am really stretched.”
“Jennifer,” the teacher said, “you ran for class president because you like people and people like you. But now you know the other side to being president. Your job is not to be in charge. Your job is to do things that will help the group. You may have to do something for the good of the group that your friends will not like.”
At that remark, Jennifer made a sad face. But the teacher continued, “Jennifer, don’t worry. You’re a good person, and you will make a great class president. By the end of the year, your friends will appreciate all your hard work for them.”
Just like the teacher said, Jennifer made decisions that some of her friends did not like. But, at the end of the year, everyone could see the progress Jennifer made for her class. And, just like her teacher said, Jennifer was a great class president.
Being in charge does not mean bossing people around. It means helping others, serving them, for their good. Sometimes it means putting their good before your own. That’s what the servant in the reading did. As a leader, he suffered for the good of the people. And by his actions, their guilt was taken away.
Bridging Question: Some leaders yell out orders. Some speak softly and try to help. Which one would you like to follow? Why?
Gospel: Mark 10:42-45
James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to Jesus and said. “Teacher, we want you to do us a favor.”
“What is it?” Jesus replied.
“Let us sit right next to you, on your right and left sides, when you become king,” they answered.
“You really don’t know what your asking for,” Jesus said. “Are you able to drink from the cup that I drink or be dunked in the baptism I am dunked in?”
“Yes!” they eagerly replied.
“Well, you will drink from the cup I drink. And you will be dunked in the baptism I am dunked in,” Jesus told them. “But I am not going to tell anyone they can sit on my right or left sides in the Kingdom. Those seats are reserved for the people who have been prepared by God.”
When the other ten followers heard the discussion, they became very angry at James and John.
So, Jesus said “Come here, everyone! You know that the people who all point to as the leaders of world use power to make sure everyone knows they are in charge. Great people use power over the people they rule. But, it’s not like that with you. Whoever wants to have a great reputation among you must act as your servant. Whoever wants to lead must be the slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come so others could serve him. No, he came to serve all and give up his life so people could be free!”
For his mother’s birthday, Eddie’s family went out to a fancy restaurant. From the time Eddie walked into the restaurant, his eyes were wide open. “Wow! What a fancy place!” Eddie declared.
When they were seated, a man came up to the table and introduced himself. “Hi, I’m James. I’ll be your waiter tonight,” the waiter said as he passed out the menus.
Eddie and his parents stared at the fancy menus. “I think I’ll have the steak tonight, Eddie’s Father said when James asked for the order. “I’ll have the pasta special,” his mother said. “I’ll have fish and chips,” Eddie said like a grown-up. James smiled at Eddie’s lowered voice and quietly left.
While they waited for the delicious food, they listened to the beautiful guitar music playing in the background. Then Eddie’s father told a really bad joke. Eddie laughed, while his mother just groaned. But that could stop the celebration. The smile on the face of Eddie’s mom spoke of joy and love.
When the food came, James, the waiter, made a joke worse than his father, and they all groaned. But, the food smelt so good, that his joke didn’t matter. Eddied and his parents thanked their waiter and got down to the serious business of eating.
After the dinner, James had the table cleared and brought a special ice cream cake with a single candle light. The waiter presented it to Eddie’s mother and whispered, “Don’t worry, we won’t sing ‘Happy Birthday’ and embarrass you.” That, of course didn’t stop Eddie’s father from singing and embarrassing his mother. Eddie joined in the singing. And all the people sitting at the tables surrounding the family began to applaud. Eddie’s mother turned red, but she still smiled and blew out the candle.
At the end of the evening, Eddie saw his father leave a lot of money lying on the table as they began to leave. “Dad, you left your money on the table. Someone might steal it,” Eddie told his father. “Eddie, that’s the tip for the waiter,” his dad replied. “James gets that money?” Eddie asked. At that point, Eddie’s dad pointed out the person that had taken their order, brought the warm, delicious food quickly, and had kept the drinks full. And that person had done it so well, Eddie barely noticed him around. After his father was finished, Eddie remarked: “James, the waiter was really good, wasn’t he, Dad?” “Yes he was, Eddie,” his dad replied. “That’s why I gave his a big tip.”
The person who orders a meal likes to think they are in charge in the restaurant. But, in reality, the waiter or waitress is. They control when and how the food is served; they control when and how the table will be cleaned. But how much money the waiter or waitress makes depends on how nice they are and how well they do their job.
In the gospel today, Jesus tells us that a good leader is not the person who gives the orders. It is the person who works like a good waiter or waitress, those who serve tables. A good leader is one who treats people with respect, who is courteous, and who helps others. Jesus was a leader served others, even dying for them.
Closing Question: Who do you know that likes to help others? What makes them a good leader?