Today’s Gospel: Matthew 20, 20-28 – St. James, Apostle
Boy, can I relate to Jesus in this gospel passage. As a catechetical leader I am frequently approached by well-meaning mothers who are pleading their case about how their children need to be given special consideration for something. “Our family can’t attend this month’s intergeneration session because….” or “Mary has a field hockey game and will miss most of Confirmation class next week.” I guess it was no different for the mother of the “Sons of Thunder” to want the best for her boys, thinking that meant for them to get special recognition by sitting at the right and left of the Messiah in the coming kingdom.
What she failed to understand was that those positions were less about honor and more about dying to one’s self in order to serve others. Had she known she was actually setting her sons up to follow Jesus to their own crosses in this world, I believe she would have ordered them home in a flash. Greatness in God’s eyes has little to do with great deeds or position in society – it has to do with service and humility, something that Pope Francis has striven to model for all of us in following the example Jesus set for us by his life, death and resurrection.
True leadership, the type that really changes us and those around us, requires relinquishing our desires for being the first and most important and taking up the humble servitude that Jesus calls us to. If we ever think we can be or do better that our Savior, then we need the same reality check James, John and their mother received in this encounter – to strive to serve and not be served. Only then will we be worthy of what is awaiting us in the world to come.
Jesus tells the mother of James and John “You do not know what are you asking.” Do we often ask Jesus for something without knowing the true cost? How can we die to our desires and ask Jesus for what He wants for us?
Jesus, give me the strength to serve you and others with a joyful heart each day, curbing my desires for greatness and proudly taking up the mantle of servant you modeled for us.
Copyright 2016 Joanne Mercier
Joanne Mercier is a musician, liturgist, catechetical leader, workshop presenter, technology consultant, amateur genealogist and host/moderator of the Monday Morning Catholic podcast. A self professed “gadget queen”, she can be found hanging out at the Apple store in her spare time. Joanne lives with her husband of 33 years, Kevin, and their cairn terriers in North Providence, RI.