Today’s Gospel paints with a pretty stark picture.
A stark picture about how much Jesus’ closest friends,
those he was counting on
understood his mission,and how poorly they were willing to live it out.
The gospel begins with the third prediction of Jesus’ suffering and death and resurrection.
This time Jesus speaks about it in great detail.
He makes it very clear how and where it is going to happen.
If a friend or a confidant ever told one of us something like that we all would want to
try to offer
some kind of consolation, comfort or support. Nothing came.
No comfort came.
No one said I’ll stand by you.
No one said we’ll lay our lives next to yours.
In fact they even refused to hear what Jesus was saying.
With the prediction of His passion and death He was definitively putting to rest the idea of a worldly kingdom where He and His disciples would be powerful rulers.
Some scholars say that Matthew was so embarrassed by the actions and words of James and John that he pops their mother into the scene to take the fall. As if to say their mother did it.
Mark puts the words on the lips of James and John themselves which is probably where they came from.
And so in Matthew the mother of James and John asks Jesus for a favor.
When you come into your kingdom (She meant worldly kingdom) make my sons #2 and #3.
Even though Jesus just explained to them what was going to happen they didn’t listen.
There is no compassion in their thoughts or minds
They can’t get beyond themselves.
They are simply concerned about their future…
their position their influence their power.
And the then the other ten Apostles became indignant.
But not because of how poorly James and John were acting but rather because they beat them to the punch.
All of them wanted to be number one.
Can you imagine how Jesus felt?
He has been with these men for around 2 years.
They have heard him preach.
They have walked with him.
They had laid close to the camp fire to keep warm.
They had seen miracle after miracle after miracle.
James and John had been at the Transfiguration and had Jesus in his glory with Moses and Elijah and they even heard the voice of God and still they didn’t get it.
They didn’t understand that the greatness they sought would not be found in positions of power or authority or wealth
but rather humble service.
During the snow week… I was walking back to Curley and a group of girls were on the top of a snow bank.
The called me to come up and play King of the Mountain with them and for some reason I did.
They almost succeeded in pushing me off until I used my secret weapon and sat down. Finally my girth worked in my favor and they could not move me.
As I sat there in my habit covered in snow yelling, I’m the king I’m number one… an old priest walked by… and shook his head.
I felt foolish
Whenever we put our self as number one we should feel foolish.
Maybe we shouldn’t be so quick to judge James and John because we all suffer from the same sin.
So many of us spend our lives saying things like
I’m number one.
Or what about me…
Me Me Me Me me me
Today’s Gospel passage calls us to continually
avoid pride and selfishness.
It calls us not to seek to be
the most liked
the prettiest or most handsome.
Rather it calls us to be the most generous and to be humble servants.
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.”