Categories: Pastor's Desk

A number of years ago, a Priest at the parish I attended would begin his homilies by reminding everyone present what had taken place in the Gospel for the past several weeks. His reason for doing this was to highlight how the scripture passages that we read each Sunday are all connected. As we read through the Gospels during Ordinary Time, keeping this idea of inter- connectedness in mind can help us to see common themes emerging. It can also help us to see how Jesus’ teachings throughout the Gospel build on each other.

For the past several weeks, we have been listening to Jesus’ teachings on discipleship. Prior to today’s passage, Jesus has just told the rich young man to sell all of his possessions to gain treasure in heaven. He has told his disciples that it is impossible for anyone who has wealth to enter God’s Kingdom, and also told them that they will be richly blessed because they have chosen to give up everything to follow him. After this, Jesus once again predicts his passion, death, and resurrection. It is this prediction that leads to the encounter with James and John.

James and John, by asking for worldly power and status, demonstrate that they don’t fully understand what Jesus taught about the importance of letting go of wealth. They are thinking only in terms of money or material goods. Jesus, on the other hand, wants his disciples to give up all attachments to worldly power and fame, and follow him unreservedly to the cross. Jesus makes this explicitly clear when he teaches his disciples that true authority is to be exercised through service. This is the example that Jesus gives to us through his life, and by giving his life as a ransom for many.

Jesus’ words are a reminder to us that even though we live in the world, we are not of this world. We are called to live by a different standard, the standard of the Cross. As we near the end of Jesus’ teachings on discipleship, we are challenged to think back about all we have read, and to ask ourselves what we must do to be considered true disciples of Christ. With God’s grace, may we be inspired to become servants for the sake of the Kingdom, who let go of all attachment in order to place our full trust in God. May we be people who live for others, and who seek to bring about God’s kingdom on earth.

Fr. Steven Huber, CSB