While Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside by themselves, and said to them on the way, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death; then they will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified; and on the third day he will be raised.”
Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to him with her sons, and kneeling before him, she asked a favor of him. And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Declare that these two sons of mine will sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” But Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.”He said to them, “You will indeed drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left, this is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”
When the ten heard it, they were angry with the two brothers. But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; just as 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.
In other scripture passages, Jesus’ question, “What do you wish?” is usually followed by the performance of some miracle—restoring sight to the blind or healing a paralytic. But in today’s gospel, when the mother of James and John tries to use her association with a “person in power” in order to obtain the fast-track to the Kingdom of God for her sons, Jesus denies her request. It’s an example of what happens when our wants are not in line with God’s desires for us or when our desires are worldly or superficial.
Sometimes, the answer is “no”; and sometimes, “no” is God’s will. When Jesus responds with, “you do not know what you are asking,” we have to remember that he loves us and he knows far better than we do what’s best for us. His “no” isn’t a punishment; it is preparation for what is to come. Our challenge today is to surrender to God’s “no” with gratitude, with thanksgiving, with grace.
—Jackie Lesiak serves as Assistant Principal for Professional Development at Creighton Prep, Omaha NE.
Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will, All I have and call my own. You have given all to me. To you, Lord, I return it. Everything is yours; do with it what you will. Give me only your love and your grace, that is enough for me. Amen
—St. Ignatius Loyola