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The request of James and John

Gospel Reading: Mt 20:20-28
The mother of the sons of Zebedee approached Jesus with her sons and did him homage, wishing to ask him for something. He said to her, “What do you wish?” She answered him, “Command that these two sons of mine sit, one at your right and the other at your left, in your Kingdom.” Jesus said in reply, “You do not know what you are asking.

Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?” They said to him, “We can.” He replied, “My chalice you will indeed drink, but to sit at my right and at my left, this is not mine to give but is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.” When the ten heard this, they became indignant at the two brothers. But Jesus summoned them and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and the great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave. Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave. This Jesus’ saying is prompted by a mother, the wife of Zebedee. She must be following the group of Jesus, maybe paying special attention only to her sons, James and John.

Though she has been with the group, she has not yet learned much from Jesus. So she asks a special favor for her sons as they draw near Jerusalem where Jesus will be exalted in his Kingdom. For her, it will be payback time for sacrificing her two sons for Jesus.

Jesus grabs this occasion to teach all the disciples in her hearing about the first or greatest. God’s standard for greatness is entirely different from that of the world. It is the slave, the servant of all, who is the first. For Jesus, to be a disciple is to follow the path of servanthood. Serving the needs of the brothers on a journey is a sign of greatness. It is not about sitting at his left or right later. Greatness is possible now.

Jesus will soon demonstrate on Mount Calvary what he ultimately means. As a servant, he will submit himself to death.

He will give his life to ransom sinners. He will take on the punishments due to them.

Are you a servant willing to suffer for others or do you want to be honored without paying the price?

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SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord 2016,” ST. PAULS Philippines, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: books@stpauls.ph; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.