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11th May: Beyond the Reasonable Call of Duty

Whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be the servant of all. Mark 10:44 (AV)

This passage is worth reading in its full context, for it is preceded by the episode in which two disciples asked for the chief places in the Kingdom, and Jesus countered them by saying that true greatness went with service and ministry. It is followed by the episode of blind Bartimaeus, sitting by the highway begging.

Bartimaeus cried out to Jesus as he passed by, only to be hushed up (by the healthy, one supposes!). He was getting in their way, a nuisance, preventing them from doing what to them was more important. But seeing his fleeting chance of help Bartimaeus refused to be silenced, and Jesus was not one to stand on his dignity -- he had come to serve, not to be served. Here was one needing service. Jesus always held himself available for people like Bartimaeus.

One of the problems of being a doctor is that so many people seem to expect us to be available at all times. They may not necessarily be patients -- they may be relatives, or nurses needing some question answered. Often the request for our time comes when we are tired, or are just leaving work for some well deserved relaxation. Often the request seems unjustified and trivial compared with our need for some privacy and leisure. Yet when and if we answer the request, we often find that it is more urgent than we had anticipated, or that it reveals some unspoken anguish or misapprehension at which we had not guessed. This is not always so -- sometimes the request really is trivial. But if we are following in our Master's footsteps, we dare not stand on our dignity and behave as if we were 'the great ones' not to be troubled by trivia. 'For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many' (v45) -- the key to our reading.

Lord help me not to be impatient with those who make
what seem to be unnecessary demands on my time.
Give me the grace to be courteous, and ready to give
of myself to those whose requests appear trivial
but whose needs may be greater than I realise.

Further reading: Mk 10:35-52.


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