Since childhood we are trained to be the best, to aim for the “stars.” The mother of Zebedee’s sons may thus represent many mothers who want the best for their children. And why not? As long as—Jesus reminds James and John—they are willing to pay the price for the “choicest places.” Besides, there are positions that only God has the prerogative to assign to whomever God wishes.
Jesus tells the two brothers that as his disciples they should aspire for the lowest and aim to serve rather than to be served, because that is the way of Jesus. Those who want to be exalted shall be humbled, while those who humble themselves shall be exalted (cf Mt 23:12).
Do we know the difference between a healthy aiming high and selfish ambition? Are we willing to be humbled in order to be exalted?
Gospel • MATTHEW 20:17-28
As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the Twelve disciples aside by themselves…
Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee approached him with her sons and did him homage, wishing to ask him for something. He said to her, “What do you wish?” She answered him, “Command that these two sons of mine sit, one at your right and the other at your left, in your kingdom.” Jesus said in reply, “You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?” They said to him, “We can.” He replied, “My chalice you will indeed drink, but to sit at my right and at my left, this is not mine to give but is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.” When the ten heard this, they became indignant at the two brothers. 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.”
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