Twenty-ninth Ordinary Sunday
Being a leader
Points to note
According to the Missal, the first paragraph of this reading is optional. I would feel that the first paragraph is essential for us for several reasons. One, it is a narrative and narratives go down well with children. Narratives also help give background to the discourses. This particular paragraph echoes another reading about humility a few weeks back (cf. Sunday 25). You may wish to revisit this reading.
This Sunday’s reading takes the concept a little further in that it applies the ideas of humility to leadership. Some of the older children may have had some position of responsibility, either in school activities or over younger brothers and sisters at home. This will provide some material for you to work on during the sessions as you draw out of these children their idea of leadership.
Acclamation before the Gospel
I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, says the Lord;
no one can come to the Father except through me.
A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St Mark
(Mk 10: 35-45)
James and John, the sons of Zebedee, approached Jesus, “Master,” they said to him, “we want you to do us a favour.” He said to them, “What is it that you want me to do for you?” They said to him, “Allow us to sit one at your right and the other at your left in your glory.” “You do not know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup that I must drink, or to be baptised with the baptism with which I must be baptised?” They replied, “We can.” Jesus said to them, “The cup that I must drink you shall drink, and with the baptism with which I must be baptised you shall be baptised, but as for the seats at my right hand or my left, these are not mine to grant; they belong to those to whom they have been allotted.”
When the other ten heard this, they began to feel indignant with James and John, so Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that among the pagans their so called rulers lord it over them, and their great men make their authority felt. This is not to happen among you. No; anyone who wants to become great among you must be your servant, and anyone who wants to be first among you must be slave to all. For the Son of Man himself did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
This is the Gospel of the Lord.
Do you have prefects or hall monitors in school? What are their jobs? To get everyone to keep the school rules. Have you noticed that different prefects and hall monitors have different ways of doing their jobs? Discuss how monitors and prefects carry out their tasks as monitors and prefects. BE CAREFUL!! Some of the children could be monitors and prefects themselves. You don’t really want a slanging match in the middle of your session.
Discuss the different styles of leadership. Some people are strict. Some people use reason. Some people use charm. Get the children to talk about the teachers they like. Each would have a different style of leadership. Which type of teacher would they like? The one who bosses everyone about because he is the teacher or the one who is willing to do things with the children? Extend the discussion to the monitors and prefects that the children like. Extend the discussion to how they would like to be a monitor or prefect if they were appointed one and still keep the rules.
Jesus expects his disciples to be leaders in the Church. But he expects them to be a different type of leader. Discuss the concept of the inverted pyramid of the Christian hierarchy (one of the titles of the Pope is ‘servant of the servants of God’ – the idea that he is at the bottom of the hierarchy as servant to all). You may want to bring in what we discussed four weeks ago about our anointing as a king at our baptism
With this in mind, how do the children think Jesus would like them to be if they were to be a hall monitor or a school prefect? Discuss also broadly how we should act when we meet people less fortunate than us or weaker than us. We should remember that these people may be closer to the kingdom of God than us if they approached their misfortune and their weakness in the Christian spirit. Therefore we should not lord over them.
At the same time, we should also remember that being a leader brings hardship as well. Look at Jesus - being a leader means to die on the cross. Not a very nice way of being a leader. Similarly, our parents sometimes have to make very difficult decisions as the leader of the family. Decisions about how to bring up the children; decisions about money; decisions about discipline. Each of these decisions often involves sacrificing something they would like to have so that the family can have food, education, etc instead. Jesus reminded his disciples that it is not easy being a leader.