Minnesota Episcopal
Commission (MEESC)

Episcopal Church in Minnesota
Shield of Episcopal Church

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Lectionary Reflection

Year B, Proper 20
Episcopal (Standard) Lectionary – Revised Common Lectionary

Mark 9:30-37

Jesus and his disciples went on from there and passed through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know it; for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, "The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again." But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him.

Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, "What were you arguing about on the way?" But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest. He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, "Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all." Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, "Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me."


Reflection on Mark Mark 9:30-37
by the Rev Tom Harries

Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.

Dr. H. King Oehmig, in his commentary on today's gospel explains this paradox rather neatly. He says, "The notion of imitating Christ in his sacrificial love engenders in most of us, who run in the circles of self-fulfillment, self-discovery, and autonomy, a feeling of martyrdom. Self is sacrificed upon the altar of service and, because it feels onerous, we tough it out in a way noticeable, [we hope], by all. In actual fact we are summoned to deny ourselves in order to open up the more abundant life of God in and through us." (Synthesis, Lent 5b, 1991)

Printable version


To Reflections on other Readings for Year B, Proper 20:

Reflections available at the active links
Standard (Episcopal) Lectionary
Revised Common
Semi-Continuous Track
Gospel Theme Track
Old Testament
(Hebrew Scripture) Reading:
Proverbs 31: 10-31
New Testament Reading:
James 3: 16 – 4:6
Mark 9: 30-37
(this page)
Mark 9: 30-37
(this page)


The Rev Tom Harries was Co-Chair of MEESC (2005-present), rector of Holy Communion Episcopal Church, St. Peter, MN, and Total Ministry Mentor when he originally wrote his reflection in 2012. Tom and we welcome your comments. Please address your comments or additional reflections to The Rev Tom Harries or any MEESC member, or mail them to:

c/o C. Morello
4451 Lakeside Drive
Eveleth, MN 55743-4400 USA

The MEESC assumes that all correspondence received is for publication on this web site. If your comments are not for publication, please so note on your correspondence. The MEESC reserves the right to decide which items are included on the website.


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