The Gospel for this Sunday is the story of the mother of the sons of Zebedee approaching Jesus asking him if her sons can sit on the right and left of Jesus in his kingdom. We see in this story that James and John had a very strong faith; they believed in Christ so much that they knew for sure he was going to reign as King of Heaven. We even know from the other gospel accounts that they left everything and followed Jesus. Although these men had such a strong faith, Jesus points out to them a flaw in their mentality of discipleship. They asked Jesus for the wrong thing and he shows them that.
What do we ask Jesus for? Is it for money? Success? Health? A peaceful life? These things are surely not bad and it is fine to ask Jesus for them, but why don’t we always get what we ask for? Jesus himself says, “Ask and you shall receive.” The thing we don’t usually understand about Jesus’ statement is that he is speaking about faith; we should ask for the gift of faith. James and John surely had faith, it seems, because they left everything and followed him. What they did not know was what they were going to face as being disciples of Christ. They asked for glory, and Jesus instead asks them a question in response: “Can you drink the chalice that I will drink”. Can they endure all the suffering that comes with being a follower of Christ?
Jesus shows these faithful men that they were asking for the wrong thing. They should have asked for the gift of faith. We should ask for the gift of faith. We will surely face hardships on our faith journey; should we ask God to rid us of them? No, we should ask God instead to make us stronger. St. Augustine says, “Pray not for a lighter load but for stronger shoulders.” We should ask God to give us the strength to be his followers. True faith is following Christ no matter how hard things get. From what we know about the lives of James and John, they did end up following Christ and were faithful to him until the end. We should all follow their example.
Readings: Third Sunday of Sawma
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