Yesterday’s gospel from Mark was about the Sons of Thunder who asked Jesus to let them sit at his side in His kingdom. I thought about this while it was being read, and it came to me: Isn’t this what we do, too? As presumptuous as we might think it is for James and John to ask Jesus to do this, consider the preface to that question. “James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus and said to him,
“Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” Isn’t this how we often are? We want Jesus to do whatever we ask Him to do for us. We pray for an end to our financial woes, we pray that our team might win the game (Go Giants tonight!), we ask that our spouse might be more <insert favorite request here>.
There’s a joke about a guy who’s late for an appointment, and can’t find a parking spot. He prays “Lord, please, just open a spot for me, and I’ll start going to Mass every day.” So he turns the corner, and there’s an open parking spot right in front of the building he needs to go into. He pulls in and says “Never mind, Lord, I found one for myself…” But isn’t this often how we are? We want God to do what we want him to do, and if we don’t get our immediate gratification, we turn away frm him, at least for a time. Our faith is weak.
What we must always remember to do is to thank God for any situation we might be in. Any and every situation. We must remember that our entire life is a gift, and we must remember to thank God for that gift. Our attitude toward God will determine whether He gives us eternal life.
Jesus asks the Sons of Thunder what they’d have Him do, and they go on to ask for the pride of place at His side in Heaven. Jesus tells them that they don’t know what they’re asking (or what’s required to get there). He tells them that they must bear the cross He bears, and endure the baptism He endured. He also tells them that they will do so. In other words, we will be called to sacrifice ourselves in some way in order to pass through the gates of heaven. He tells them “ whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all.For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Isaiah, in the first reading, confirms this:
“The LORD was pleased
to crush him in infirmity.
If he gives his life as an offering for sin,
he shall see his descendants in a long life,
and the will of the LORD shall be accomplished through him.
Because of his affliction
he shall see the light in fullness of days;
through his suffering, my servant shall justify many,
and their guilt he shall bear.”