First reading: Wis. 2:12,17–20
The wicked say:
Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us;
he sets himself against our doings,
reproaches us for transgressions of the law
and charges us with violations of our training.
Let us see whether his words be true;
let us find out what will happen to him.
For if the just one be the son of God, God will defend him
and deliver him from the hand of his foes.
With revilement and torture let us put the just one to the test
that we may have proof of his gentleness
and try his patience.
Let us condemn him to a shameful death;
for according to his own words, God will take care of him.
Second reading: Jas. 3:16–4:3
Beloved: Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every foul practice. But the wisdom from above is first of all pure, then peaceable, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without inconstancy or insincerity. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace for those who cultivate peace.
Where do the wars and where do the conflicts among you come from? Is it not from your passions that make war within your members? You covet but do not possess. You kill and envy but you cannot obtain; you fight and wage war. You do not possess because you do not ask. You ask but do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.
Gospel: Mk. 9:30–37
Jesus and his disciples left from there and began a journey through Galilee, but he did not wish anyone to know about it. He was teaching his disciples and telling them, “The Son of Man is to be handed over to men and they will kill him, and three days after his death the Son of Man will rise.” But they did not understand the saying, and they were afraid to question him.
They came to Capernaum and, once inside the house, he began to ask them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” But they remained silent. They had been discussing among themselves on the way who was the greatest. Then he sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.” Taking a child, he placed it in their midst, and putting his arms around it, he said to them, “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me.”
In other words Fr. Gil Alejandria, SVD (Catholic Trade, Manila)
In religious life, we learn about the concept of servant leadership. It is an attempt to practice what Jesus said, “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.” To be first may mean one is chosen or elected to be the superior of a community. Usually, it is a position that many want to avoid. The many responsibilities and duties of a superior can cause so much stress and headaches. Yet it provides an excellent opportunity to be of service to others. It is not like when one is elected to a public office, where one gets prestige, power, and opportunity to obtain many material rewards. In public life , some people are willing to do anything, ethical and otherwise, to attain a coveted position. The prospect of so much wealth makes it a desirable option.
In religious life, there is little prospect of material gain. It is all pure service. One learns to put aside his personal needs. One learns what it is to be a servant: doing little menial tasks that often go unnoticed and unappreciated. One learns to perform functions with no thought of reward not praise nor material compensation. One learns what it means to be “last.” It is a simple lesson in humility. The good of the community takes top priority over all concerns. Through it all, the servant leader reminds himself that he does everything as his way of serving God. It is in the faithful and conscientious performance of every menial task that we become genuine servants. By humbling oneself, one becomes “first” in the eyes of God, who alone can grant the only reward that genuinely matters, the reward that is truly deserved and desired.