As we continue with our step-by-step explanation of the Eucharist, I pray that all of us will embrace this beautiful gift from Jesus, and participate more actively in our Eucharists.
In today’s Gospel, we hear James and John asking Jesus for good places in the Kingdom of God, but I see that they were not paying attention to His real message. James and John picked a bad moment. “Their timing was precisely wrong,” said St. John Chrysostom, “for this was not the right time for crowns or prizes. It was the time for struggles, contests, toils, sweat, wrestling rings, and battles.” The silliness of their question stands out all the more clearly because of the gravity of the moment. They are looking for preferment. Jesus promised them that they would embrace the consequences of being His followers, and they became great apostles; with Peter, they were the inner group. Yet we see how foolish or unwise they were in this passage. It gives us all some hope!
With irony, Chrysostom noted that there were indeed great things in store for the two brothers. “Jesus foretold great things for them; that is, you shall be held worthy of martyrdom, you shall suffer the things I have suffered, you shall end your life with a death from violence, and in this also you shall be sharers with me.”
Look at the others, the ones who were angry with the “Sons of Thunder” for wanting preferment. If you are angry you are involved somehow; you too are in the running. If the others were not also thinking just like the Sons of Thunder, they would not be angry with them, they would simply pity them; they would take them aside and have a brotherly chat with them. But they were angry, they were in no way different from them – except that they were cleverer, less direct. It is always instructive to look with clear sight at our anger. It always has something to tell us. Are we ready to accept the consequences of being Jesus’ disciples? Or are we looking for just the benefits or for the preferment of being His disciples?
Fr. Oscar Mendez, OFM
Mission San Luis Rey Parish
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