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.
We can learn much about who Jesus is from this reading. Instead of observing the bold helicopter parenting of the mother of the sons of Zebedee or the disciples’ angry reactions, let’s look at Jesus.
He’s approachable because the mother feels comfortable asking him a favor.
He’s eager to help and asks her, “What do you want?”
He listens and asks questions to help the sons clarify their own desires.
He values service over status and bluntly explains how greatness is achieved. And it is not what the mother, her sons, or the other disciples expected. We are to be imitators of Jesus who came to serve and who gave his life as a ransom for many.
Approach Jesus today with the desires in your heart. Through these desires, are you being called to do or be something more? Boldly ask for the grace to desire to do more for others.
—Diane Amento Owens is a spiritual director who encourages her directees to see the world through the lens of Ignatian spirituality.
Jesus, today as I approach you, I’m somewhat confused. I’m torn by my desire to achieve greatness and success in the eyes of the world. And I’d much rather drink the cup of honor and privilege than the cup of insignificance or suffering. What do you want for me, Lord? I ask for the grace to recognize the deep desires you’ve placed in my heart and the courage to act upon them. When you ask me, “What do you want?” give me the desire to serve others instead of the desire to achieve status for myself. Form me into the person you want me to be, Jesus, and help me to become more and more like you every day.
—Diane Amento Owens