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Gospel for Sunday, October 17: Mark 10, 35-45

XXIX Sunday B

35And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, approached him and said to him: “Master, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” 36He said to them: “What do you want me to do for you?” They answered him: 37«Grant us to sit in your glory, one at your right and one at your left». 38Jesus said to them: “You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I drink, or receive the baptism with which I am baptized?”. They replied: “We can.” 39And Jesus said: “The cup that I drink you will also drink, and the baptism that I receive you will also receive. 40But sitting on my right or my left is not up to me to grant; it is for those for whom it was prepared.” 41When the other ten heard this, they were indignant at James and John. 42Then Jesus called them to him and said to them: “You know that those who are considered leaders of the nations dominate them, and their great ones exercise power over them. 43However, this is not the case among you; but whoever wants to be great among you will be your servant, 44and whoever wants to be first among you will be the servant of all. 45Indeed, the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many”.

Mark 10, 35-45

Dear Sisters and Brothers of the Misericordie, I am Carlo Miglietta, doctor, biblical scholar, layman, husband, father and grandfather (

Also today I share with you a short meditation thought on the Gospel, with special reference to the theme of mercy.

The theme of this teaching of Jesus is the authority of the Church. It is not power, but service. The Church must become a slave and servant, because in the Church it is the poor, it is the little ones who have the primacy of honor. The disciples have understood nothing of the Lord’s message, and ask for the first places for themselves. But there is a mystery in the Bible: prayers are always answered, even if in a different way than we expect. Here Giovanni and Giacomo ask to sit in the first places. And he tells them yes. But it won’t be as they think: the first places in the Church belong to those who serve, those who sacrifice themselves, those who die. They will be heard: they too will take this cup, they too will be baptized in the baptism of Jesus: in fact tradition tells us that James and John will have great honors from the Church precisely because they will suffer martyrdom. James is the first of the Twelve to die, killed by the sword in 44 AD. C. by Herod Agrippa I (Acts 12,2). John, according to tradition, is condemned to burn in boiling oil, but he will not die for this, but will then be killed by the Jews, according to some testimonies. The prayer was exhausted: James and John became great but through the cross, taking the cup of Jesus. The cup, in biblical language, is a sign of blessing, of joy (Ps 16; 23; 116; 118); but also a sign of bitterness and anger (Is 51; Jer 25,14-29; Lam 4,21; Ez 23). The chalice is a sign of man’s life itself, of the destiny that God prepares for him, or rather, that man himself procures by obeying the Most High or by distancing himself from him.

The offering of the chalice by Jesus at the Last Supper expresses the dynamic aspect of the Eucharistic gesture: note that in what is considered the “formula of consecration” we always speak of the chalice and not of wine (Mk 14.23 -24; Mt 26,27-28; Luke 22,20; 1 Cor 11,25). The cup is the life of Jesus given to the disciples and to all men: and all in turn are called to make their existence a free gift for others.

Baptism means immersion, it means being overwhelmed by evil, by suffering, it means being immersed in death. Our baptism has this dimension, of amputation and death. Baptism is a death (Mk 10.38; Lk 12.50): and death, according to the rabbis, dissolves all bonds and all commitments. Paul will say that we must die to the old man to be resurrected into the new man: “Do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death, so that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in new life… Consider yourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Rom 6:3-11). Our old man is the one subjected to sin, who wants to take instead of giving, who wants to be served instead of serving. The Christian has become a new creature and therefore he must have a new behavior: love, give of himself, spend himself on others.

Happy Mercy to all!

Anyone who would like to read a more complete exegesis of the text, or some insights, please ask me at


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