The request of James and John

Published February 27, 2018, 10:00 PM

by Mario Casayuran and Vanne Elaine Terrazola


MT 20:17-28


As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the Twelve disciples aside by themselves…

Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee approached him with her sons and did him homage, wishing to ask him for something. He said to her, “What do you wish?” She answered him, “Command that these two sons of mine sit, one at your right and the other at your left, in your Kingdom.” Jesus said in reply, “You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?” They said to him, “We can.” He replied, “My chalice you will indeed drink, but to sit at my right and at my left, this is not mine to give but is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.” When the ten heard this, they became indignant at the two brothers. But Jesus summoned them and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and the great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave. Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”



Whoever wishes to be great among you. Among our natural human longings is to be recognized and exalted. This is illustrated in the Gospel by the mother of James and John. Having seen how her sons are close to Jesus, she thinks it appropriate to ask Jesus to reserve the special places (to Jesus’ left and right) for them in the Kingdom of God.

Jesus senses a distorted and this-worldly mindset in the request and so intimates to the disciples that with them greatness is in being a servant and being first is being last — just as he, the Son of Man, has shown them.

When we follow Jesus, we set aside ambition and the desire for honor. These are values of the world, and our mission is supposed to turn them upside down and promote the values of Jesus and the Kingdom. Unfortunately, many of us, even in the Church, still fall into this trap of pursuing prestige and honor. It is good to remind ourselves that our essential vocation as Christians is to serve.

Do we realize what real following

of Jesus entails?

Are we willing to live as servants rather than as masters?


SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord 2018,” ST. PAULS Philippines, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: [email protected]; Website: