What happens when we are caught with our hand in the proverbial cookie jar? Our face turns red, our heads drop, our eyes are cast down and we are silent. So we can easily identify with the disciple’ silence in the face of Jesus’ asking them what they are discussing.
Twice in this Gospel the disciples are reduced to silence. First, they are afraid to ask Jesus about his teaching that he must die and rise. Second, they are afraid to tell him that they have been arguing about who among them is the greatest. The first silence indicates a stubborn resistance to accept the demands of what they hear; the second silence indicates that they intuitively understand how far they have strayed from what Jesus is teaching them. The disciples spend the rest of their lives coming to understand what it means to follow Jesus and serve him through the least among us.
By dying to self and serving the least among us, we rise to new and great life. Dying to self doesn’t simply mean we write a check to our favorite charity or bring non perishables to St Vincent de Paul Society [as good as these gestures may be]. It means surrendering our very selves for others – all others- not just those of our own picking and choosing. It means reaching out to the least among us.
Like the disciples, Jesus gives us the room we need to grow and come to deeper understanding of what it means to be a faithful disciple serving others.