They were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them; they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. He took the twelve aside again and began to tell them what was to happen to him, saying, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death; then they will hand him over to the Gentiles;they will mock him, and spit upon him, and flog him, and kill him; and after three days he will rise again.”
James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And he said to them, “What is it you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They replied, “We are able.” Then Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”
When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John.So Jesus called them and said to them, “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
Time and again the disciples just don’t get it. And for that, we can take great consolation.
It’s easy to criticize James and John for missing Jesus’ message in favor of their own self-interest. But deep down, we know that our own petty concerns often cloud our relationship with Jesus.
Thankfully, Jesus is patient with the disciples and with us. Time and again he reveals that having a seat in the kingdom isn’t about winning a competition or gaining power over others. It’s about radical love and serving others.
In his Spiritual Exercises, Saint Ignatius invites us to walk with Jesus through four weeks or “movements.” In the first two, we come to know ourselves as loved sinners and respond in generosity by serving God and others to the best of our ability. In the third week, we contemplate the Cross and God’s faithfulness and love for us. In the final week, we are sent forth by the Risen Christ to find God in all things and serve the world in concrete ways.
Today, how can we “get it” by focusing on God’s love and serving wherever there is a need, no matter how small?
—Jeremy Langford is the director of communications for the Midwest Jesuits and author of Seeds of Faith: Practices to Grow a Healthy Spiritual Life ©2007 Paraclete Press, Brewster, MA.
Lord, we search for true success. We seek the same for our families. You have given us the pathway to fulfillment. “Whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all.” May our choices in how we spend our time follow your call to greatness.
—The Jesuit Prayer Team