The Gospel on Sunday, the 29th in Ordinary Time, opened to us something of the heart of Jesus, and his spirituality.
James and John, the sons of Zebedee, approached Jesus. ‘Master,’ they said to him ‘we want you to do us a favour.’ He said to them, ‘What is it you want me to do for you?’ They said to him, ‘Allow us to sit one at your right hand and the other at your left in your glory.’ ‘You do not know what you are asking’ Jesus said to them. ‘Can you drink the cup that I must drink, or be baptised with the baptism with which I must be baptised?’ They replied, ‘We can.’ Jesus said to them, ‘The cup that I must drink you shall drink, and with the baptism with which I must be baptised you shall be baptised, but as for seats at my right hand or my left, these are not mine to grant; they belong to those to whom they have been allotted.’
When the other ten heard this they began to feel indignant with James and John, so Jesus called them to him and said to them, ‘You know that among the pagans their so-called rulers lord it over them, and their great men make their authority felt. This is not to happen among you. No; anyone who wants to become great among you must be your servant, and anyone who wants to be first among you must be slave to all. For the Son of Man himself did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’
It is impressive that Jesus holds the tension presented by the disciples’ agitation for power, first by James and John and then between all the twelve. He holds it, and uses it to draw them closer to him and closer to what is good.
- Do you find the same freedom and poise in dealing with conflict and tension?
- Why might Jesus be so good at it?
- What is the reason for his insisting on the primacy of the servant?
Photograph of Tabernacle in church in Arles, France. (c) 2014, Allen Morris.