Mark 9:35

Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “If anyone wishes to be first, he must be last of all, and servant of all.”


calling all disciples
come in disciples

a double call
for those doubly far

caught on a mountaintop
playing king of this and all

like a whistle cutting through
papered over dissonance

from a dream awoken
we start again

rolling our best intention upward
until worn away leaving us with stone

this rock we heave at heaven
only to have it ricochet wildly

time to hear our call again
lest none be left


We can almost hear grandfather Jesus sit with a dejected plop, call the kids and ask, “All right, who started this argument?”

Faced with twelve hung heads wreathed with silence, he continues, “Well, it doesn’t matter as every everyone restarted the argument.”

Without expecting that this teaching opportunity will bear any more fruit than before, ancient ones continue to witness to their vision and experience…, “Whoever wants to be first must be least of all and the servant of all.”

Implied in this is an understanding that no matter where one ends up on a ladder of success, there will yet be suffering, there will still be death. At issue is whether any of that will have a redemptive quality. Will it make a difference that a life was lived with an integrity that placed compassion and partnership with friends and neighbors at the center of decision-making? Whether or not such a difference extends to others who see and draw near to join in such changed living, it yet remains satisfying to the merciful; it is their world sustained.

For those who are tracking such things:

This is the third time that Jesus summons and instructs the Twelve…another Markan triad. The first time Jesus sends them out as apostles “to preach…drive out demons” (3:14–15); the second time…“take nothing for the journey” (6:8); here…to be servants…. Mark shows Jesus teaching…how to give up the pursuit of worldly power. ~ Sabin-284

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