On one of my talks for the weekend retreat, I remark that Jesus knew what it was like to be misunderstood. In today’s Gospel, we see an indication of that very thing. Our Gospel passage begins with Jesus telling the apostles about His suffering and death that would occur when they got to Jerusalem. Right after this, the mother of James and John asks that her sons sit on His right and His left at the coming of the kingdom. We don’t have an indication that James and John tried to stop her from asking. But it seems to me that Jesus’ prediction of His Passion might have given them pause.
When we reflect on the Cross of Christ, it should give us pause. Jesus is telling the apostles about the suffering and death that has to occur before the Resurrection. But James and John are more concerned about the glory they could have. The other ten are indignant at James and John, but I don’t think it’s because they understand Jesus any better than Zebedee’s sons. I think it’s because they were hoping for glory themselves.
If we follow Jesus, we can’t take a shortcut to glory. In fact, personal glory becomes less and less important the more we follow Jesus’ commands. This is what Jesus tells the apostles and us: "Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave." And if we act as a servant solely for the purpose of being considered great, we will still have missed the point.
We follow Jesus, even to the point of serving others and carrying our own crosses, not for glory or fame, but so that the Gospel is spread, the love of God is shared, and that we might live with Jesus forever. May God help us let go of the desire for glory, and give us the desire for His kingdom!