Reading: Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave. Matthew 20:26-27.
Good morning, happy Wednesday, and many blessings my dear family.
Today’s Gospel (Matthew 20:17-28) reading is pretty sobering. Jesus and the disciples are going up to Jerusalem and Jesus wants to prepare them for what lies ahead for him as well as for them. He warns his disciples that he will be handed over to the scribes and chief priests. Not only that, but Jesus also tells them that he will be condemned to death, mocked, scourged and crucified! Can you imagine the disciples’ response to Jesus’ words? Were they frightened for Jesus and perhaps also frightened for themselves? Then Jesus tells them that he will be raised up on the 3rd day! What are the disciples to make of that statement?
Then the focus of the Gospel shifts as the mother of sons of Zebedee comes up to Jesus. She has a favor she desires, and Jesus asks her what she wants. The woman is bold both in her behavior and her request. The woman told Jesus that she wants her sons to sit with Jesus in his kingdom, one at his right hand and the other at his left.
The other apostles also were with Jesus during this encounter. How do you think the other apostles reacted to this mother’s request? After all, what made her sons so special? What about them? Several of them had been with Jesus longer than her sons had. Notice: initially Jesus does not directly answer her question. Rather, he speaks of the difficult path that was before him. Then he tells the woman that it is not his place to name the people who would be on his right and his left. It will God who will make that decision.
When the other disciples heard of this request, they were angry and indignant at the way Zebedee’s wife had asked for on behalf of her sons. Jesus used this occasion to teach his disciples. He calls all of them together and told them not to lord their call and authority over anyone. Rather, their primary focus should be on serving each other and the people they would be ministering to. Jesus wanted them to have the right motivation for their ministry. It was not to be about power and acclaim. Their ministry was to preach His word and to serve the people.
Motivations can be tricky. We can fool ourselves into believing that we are doing something good for another, when the reality is we also might receive a payoff. It might be simply a word of thanks or receiving a favor in return, or we simply might feel righteous and good about how well we served another.
Hopefully, our service flows simply from our desire to care for and help another. True service is not about power or acclaim. If our service or help to other flows from our love and our desire to help them, God also is there! Today what will we choose? To love is to be called to go beyond myself and my needs for others. Jesus came among us to teach us how to live a fully human life. He loved his own to the end. Have you ever experienced that ‘going beyond’ yourself for others? Talk to Jesus about this experience.