Twenty-Ninth Sunday of Ordinary Time

October 17, 2021

Sister Margaret Meaney OSB reflects on the Gospel of Mark 10:35-45

There is a Chinese curse “May you live in interesting times’’.

Joan Chittister wrote a story about a monk from the far east, living in interesting times.

There was a vicious general plundering the countryside and terrorizing the villagers. He was, they said, particularly cruel to the monks of the place, whom he despised. One day, at the end of his most recent assault, he was informed by one of his officers, that fearing him, all the people had already fled the town, with the exception of one monk who had remained in his monastery going about the order of the day.

The general was infuriated at the audacity of the monk and sent the soldiers to drag him to his tent. “Do you not know who I am?” he roared at the monk. “I am he who can run you through with a sword and never bat an eyelash.”

But the monk replied quietly, “And do you not know who I am? I am he who can let you run me through with a sword and never bat an eyelash.”

This is an example of Power Over vs. Personal Power, of dominance and control over others vs. self-control of one’s thoughts, actions and responses.

Jesus’ life was a prime example of Personal Power: self-respect, respect of others, mercy, the desire to lift up and improve lives. These are holy traits.

Power Over is stolen power and needs victims; without a person to have power over, there is no power. For me it seems that to seek power over is a sign of weakness.

From Proverbs 12:18: “Rash words are like sword thrusts.” Some of the world today is rampant, violent and uncontrollable in action, manner and speech.

Personal Power has control over strong emotions, is less likely to succumb to anxiety and fear, is less reactive.

What can be more powerful than the ineffable love of God? May we all have a modicum of that power for each other so that we do not become a mere breath when weighed on the scales of Eternity.