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Wednesday Gospel Reflection

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Seating plans can be a headache. We had one recently for our Doorkeepers’ Dinner. The trouble with seating plans is that if there is a logic underlying the arrangement of people, inevitably someone will feel overlooked whereas others who may have been preferred can feel embarrassed about the honour they have received to the exclusion of someone else. It usually ends in some sense of awkwardness. Incidentally, about six months ago I was at a friend’s birthday where a table plan was displayed with nice little name cards. My friend proudly announced that  had placed people randomly, which seemed to me to defeat the point. I suspect that where he sat was not entirely random. Anyway, the point is that it matters to us as social creatures where we sit, and it was no different in Jesus’s day.

We hear in today’s Gospel how James and John seek to consolidate their position. We know that John was the disciple whom Jesus loved so there was some basis to this request on his part at least. Far from being some cynical ploy, it was natural enough that both of them should want to be close to Our Lord. So they ask him, rather brazenly, and to the ire of the other disciples.

Being closer to Jesus is not simply a case of an indecorous request. He who would wish to gain favour, to be great, must become a servant, a slave. Greatness comes through loving service, not through where we sit at the dinner table. Of course, there was no greater service than Jesus’s own, which culminates in the glory of the Cross. That is the path we must follow if we wish to sit at table with Our Lord in heaven.

Samuel Burke O.P.

Br Samuel Burke O.P. Fr Samuel Burke is based in St Albert the Great in Edinburgh, where he serves as a university chaplain.  |  samuel.burke@english.op.org


Robert commented on 29-May-2016 05:46 PM
This struck a chord. In a former life I was responsible for place settings at formal dinners. Headache indeed and I quickly learnt that one can't please all the people all of the time.

I wonder, however, if it might be possible to say something about the pictures used in these posts and the symbolism therein, or at least give the name of the painter and the current location of the picture if known. This is obviously the Last Supper but what is the meaning of the two Greek words at the top of the picture?

Thank you.

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