At Mass yesterday, we listened to the passage from St. Mark’s Gospel in which James and John ask Jesus to “grant that in your glory we may sit at your right and the other at your left.”
Positions of power and glory to be sure. High seats, where everyone may see the brothers, knowing they are great men. Positions form which they presumably may wield authority over others. Ambitious men, these two. The same can probably be said for the other followers of Jesus. We are told that the other apostles “became indignant” at James and John for their request; I’ve always thought their reaction was more about being upset they didn’t think to ask the question before James and John did than anything else.
In reply Jesus asks them, “Can you drink the cup that I drink or be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?”
In his homily, Fr. Dale described the cup Jesus drinks as the cup of service and suffering. For there is suffering in living a life modeled on Christ’s – in putting the needs of others over the desires of the self. But, he reminded us, there is also tremendous joy in doing so.
Ambition is a very human thing. But today’s Gospel reminds us that discipleship in Christ is not about power and glory in the worldly understanding of those terms. The power of Christ in us is not about sitting up on high chairs where everyone can see us, giving us kudos and respect, kissing our rings and kneeling before us.
In Fr. Dale’s words near the end of his homily: The power of discipleship is the power to serve.
During the offertory at Mass, we sang the beautiful Servant Song: