James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus and said to him, "Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you." He replied, "What do you wish me to do for you?" They answered him, "Grant that in your glory we may sit one at your right and the other at your left." Jesus said to them, "You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I drink or be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?" They said to him, "We can."
I’ve worked in Church communications for many years. Over that time I’ve met many public relations professionals—talented people who work hard to put out the positive stories about their companies or organizations. Most are devoted to the truth, and deal with negative news honestly and directly. But I suspect some of them might have urged Mark, the author of today’s Gospel, to reconsider his portrayal of the disciples!
Mark doesn’t paint a very positive portrait. Throughout his Gospel, the disciples just don’t get it! They misunderstand Jesus’ message, engage in behavior contrary to his proclamation of the Kingdom, and abandon him at the end.
Today’s passage is a good example, as James and John vie for the top jobs in the hierarchy—right next to the Lord himself. Once more Jesus must make an example of such behavior, promising that these enterprising brothers will indeed to share his lot—but through sharing the cup of suffering. His only wish is that they would choose that outcome through self-giving service.
In a way I’m glad no one “cleaned up” Mark’s portrait of the disciples. It gives me some comfort to hear how they stumbled toward the Kingdom, when I consider my own failings! Their humanness gives us hope that God will work in our lives and will patiently remind us, as Jesus does today, that true greatness comes through serving others.
by Father Dan Kroger, OFM
In this week's first reading, Isaiah says, “The Lord was pleased to crush him in infirmity.” About whom did Isaiah say that?
Who is the suffering servant about whom Isaiah speaks?
Why does the second reading say our “high priest” knows our suffering? Why is the fact that Jesus knows our suffering important for all of us?
What did James and John ask Jesus in the Gospel? In turn, what did Jesus ask them? And what did Jesus mean by saying: “The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many?”
by Susan Hines-Brigger
Today's Gospel speaks of service for others. As a family, find some service project opportunities for all of you to take part in. It could be something like serving dinner at a local homeless shelter or collecting items for the local animal shelter.
Whenever you have the chance this week, allow someone else to go before you rather than fight about it. That could be letting that person go ahead of you in line, or allowing him or her get food first at dinner.