In today’s Gospel, James and John approach Jesus and tell him they want him to do whatever he asks of them. Jesus replies by asking, as he asks people so often, “What do you wish me to do for you?”
And what is the response of James and John? “Grant that in your glory we may sit one at your right and the other at your left.” The response is particularly jarring because this passage in Mark follows immediately after one of Jesus’ predictions of his passion. James and John don’t seem particularly anxious to be at Jesus’ left and right during his suffering.
What came to mind as I reflected on their response was the passage in the Second Book of Chronicles, where God appears to Solomon and says “Whatever you ask, I will give you.” Salomon asks for “wisdom and knowledge” to govern God’s people.
The contrast is striking. James and John want to be rewarded with the choicest seats in the house; Solomon asks for the grace he needs to carry out the task to which God as appointed him.
Jesus asks the same of you and I: What do you wish me to do for you?
How do you reply?
Does your response sound more like James and John’s or like Solomon’s?