When Jesus was going to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside and said to them,
See, we are going to Jerusalem. There the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the Law, and they will condemn him to death. They will hand him over to the foreigners, who will mock him, scourge him and crucify him. But he will be raised to life on the third day.
Then the mother of James and John came to Jesus with her sons, and she knelt down, to ask a favor. Jesus said to her,
What do you want?
And she answered,
Here you have my two sons. Grant that they may sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.
Jesus said to the brothers,
You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I am about to drink?
You will indeed drink my cup, but to sit at my right or at my left is not for me to grant. That will be for those, for whom my Father has prepared it.
The other ten heard all this, and were angry with the two brothers. Then Jesus called them to him and said,
You know that the rulers of nations behave like tyrants, and the powerful oppress them. It shall not be so among you: whoever wants to be great in your community, let him minister to the community. And if you want to be the first of all, make yourself the servant of all. Be like the Son of Man who came, not to be served but to serve, and to give his life to redeem many.
The gospel challenges us to look at the ambitions that lie within us. For most of us, if we were honest, having power, honor and influence are desirable and attractive. After all, such positions come with perks. No wonder that in any human organization, people vie for positions that will accord them these privileges. Jesus is well aware of the ambitions that lie in the heart of his followers. Two were honest enough to voice out their ambitions for power, while the other ten masked their envy with anger. For Jesus, this was a teachable moment about the meaning of discipleship. His question, “Can you drink the cup that I am about to drink?” is also meant for us. With his impending passion in mind, Jesus knew fully well that he would enter his glory through rejection, suffering and death. This was the cup he had to drink, the cup from which he is inviting us to drink. To do so means to refuse many other cups full of worldly privileges and ambitions. By drinking from his cup we are accepting that the way to becoming his true disciples is to follow him in weakness, humility and in self-giving service.
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