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Ashley McKinlessMay 23, 2024
Photo by Sabrianna on Unsplash

A Reflection for Wednesday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time

“For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve
and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mk 10:45)

If I were asked to think of “perishable” things, my mind would not first go to “silver and gold.” Rather, I’d think of the Monsterra plant I struggle to keep alive and the strawberries in the fridge that grew moldy before I could finish eating them. 

But in today’s first reading, Peter, writing to the Christians of Asia Minor, exhorts them not to look for “ransom” from “perishable things like silver or gold.” This makes sense. No one is looking to their dying plant for salvation; but they just might look to silver and gold, to wealth, status and power, for what they think is the next best thing: security. 

Security was no small thing for Christians living in a time of persecution. The temptation to insulate oneself through riches or influence would have been great. 

But Peter tells them that their ransom has already been bought, not with wealth but with “the precious Blood of Christ as of a spotless unblemished Lamb.”

There is a similar message from Jesus in today’s Gospel from St. Mark. On the road to Jerusalem, Jesus tells the 12 disciples of his fate: He is to be handed over, condemned, put to death and rise in three days. 

James and John, the sons of Zebedee, then ask Jesus, “Grant that in your glory/ we may sit one at your right and the other at your left.”

Like those who would accumulate silver and gold to guarantee their salvation, James and John are looking to secure their places of authority in whatever comes next. 

Like Peter to the early Christians, Jesus admonishes them that they are looking for salvation and glory in the wrong place: “[W]hoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all.”

And like Peter, what Jesus says challenges the logic of this world. How can power, wealth or status make you a slave to all?

But think of the C.E.O. who wants to give his workers a living wage, but must answer to shareholders first. Or the celebrity who wants to speak up against abortion, but knows that if she does, her next film will tank at the box office. How free are they really? No, the freest people I’ve known, while not necessarily poor, are those who know that whatever gifts and resources they have must be used in service of the poor.

Silver, gold, power, status, riches, even health, wither and wilt like the grass and flowers in the field, Peter writes. But the “imperishable seed,” the word of Jesus, is eternal, and thanks to his sacrifice, so is our hope for salvation.

More: Scripture

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