While Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside by themselves, and said to them on the way, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death; then they will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified; and on the third day he will be raised.”
Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to him with her sons, and kneeling before him, she asked a favor of him. And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Declare that these two sons of mine will sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” But Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.” He said to them, “You will indeed drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left, this is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”
When the ten heard it, they were angry with the two brothers. But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
Today´s gospel reading is about a well-intentioned mom—a model 1.0 helicopter parent. As the mother of two sons, I can relate to this situation. I’ve driven my boys untold miles to school and sports, volunteered for many causes related to them, and now find myself in Cartagena with my 14-year-old as he is studying abroad. But Mrs. Zebedee goes too far. Her attempted advancement is unbecoming, and she diminishes James and John by her actions.
Jesus could have really laid into her, and I am surprised he wasn’t more forceful in his rebuke. Instead, he shares a secret: servants and slaves make up his kingdom, and the price is steep.
Again and again, Jesus tells us that his kingdom values those that serve.
Appointed readings for today: Jeremiah 18:1-11, 18-20, Psalm 31:9-16, Matthew 20:17-28