The disciples were on the road going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead. The Twelve were anxious, and those who followed were afraid. Once more Jesus took the Twelve aside to tell them what was to happen to him. “You see we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be given over to the chief priests and the teachers of the Law. They will condemn him to death, and hand him over to the foreigners, who will make fun of him, spit on him, scourge him, and kill him; but three days later he will rise.”
James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus and said to him, “Master, we want you to grant us what we are going to ask of you.” And he said, “What do you want me to do for you?” They answered, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, when you come in your glory.”
But Jesus said to them, “You don’t know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized in the way I am baptized?” They answered, “We can.” And Jesus told them, “The cup that I drink you will drink, and you will be baptized in the way that I am baptized; but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant. It has been prepared for others.”
On hearing this, the other ten were angry with James and John. Jesus then called them to him and said, “As you know, the so-called rulers of the nations behave like tyrants, and those in authority oppress the people. But it shall not be so among you; whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you shall make himself slave of all. Think of the Son of Man, who has not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life to redeem many.”
“A body in motion stays in motion, a body at rest stays at rest,” a TV advertisement says. Jesus in today’s Gospel wants to ascend, climb up: Greek, anabainó. For him to ascend is to go down first through suffering and death. He is on his final journey to Jerusalem. His mission in obedience to his Father’s will is to reach the finish line. The disciples, however, especially the sons of Zebedee, wanted to stay put and requested a place of honor, so were the ten who did not want to be outdone. It was the same scenario with Peter who desired to stay at the mountaintop of Transfiguration. He did not want to go down to the valley of death. Jesus used the occasion to teach his disciples that the way to glory starts with humility and death. “It is in dying that we are born to eternal life.” (Francis of Assisi)
Human nature always seeks the easy way out. This is not true with sanctity.
“Invention is 90% perspiration and 10% inspiration.” (Thomas Edison) The trip to heaven is hard and paved with crown of thorns. There is no alternative way. There is an easy way – to hell!
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