We never know quite where people are going to go in life, or where we ourselves will end up, do we? These two brothers, James and John, have aspirations for greatness. Or did they? In another version of this Gospel, it is Mama Zebedee that speaks up asking that her sons be Jesus’ closest assistants when He comes into his kingdom. For her, it was a matter of family pride. “Jesus, look at my boys here – they left me to follow you, so I depend on you to see that they don’t get left behind.” It sounds to me like either Mama pushed her sons forward (you know how moms can be) or was the boys’ dream, too? We can learn from the exchange between the mother and Jesus and Jesus and the boys. For one thing, we don’t always know the full impact of what we are asking for. Had James and John, or their mother, realized the full weight of what they had asked … they may have been the ones crucified next to Jesus on the cross.
Mama’s request is not that much different from some of our prayers, is it? We remember that Jesus has told us, “Whatever you ask for in my name, I will do it.” The catch is that when we ask in the name of Jesus, we are asking that His will prevail over ours. Have you prayed and asked for something that you didn’t get and then later on realized that it was a real blessing that God didn’t answer your prayer in the way you wanted? Maybe you prayed you make good time on the highway and later learned you might have been involved in a horrific accident had you been just a few miles down the road. You were the recipient of what some refer to as “The Mercy of Unanswered Prayer.” There’s an answer, and a gracious one – just not the one you were hoping for. The gracious response comes for a merciful, loving Savior who knows what we really need.
This Gospel reminds us that like James and John we are still in “servant training.” Jesus said to them, “Can you drink the cup that I drink? Can you share in my fate?” James and John are not ready yet for the responsibility their mother seeks for them. At this point they need more training in life lessons.
James and John learned a lesson all believers learn. We may receive some recognition from others, but we should not seek it. Rather, the words of Jesus ring in our ears, “First things first. Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be the slave of all.”
We hear many stories of kindness, heroism and servanthood. One such story is about a woman who found a stack of checks and a deposit slip all in the name of “Stacy.” Rather than looking for “Stacy,” the lady took the checks to the bank and deposited them in Stacy’s account. She shared with the teller that the owner would likely come in soon all upset about losing the checks. Tell her the money was found and deposited. Then tell her to read this note which said, “Hi, Stacy, I found your deposit and brought it to the bank. I don’t know if you take the train to work in the morning, but there is a homeless man who sits by the station nearby here every morning. If you would like to pass on the good deed, he could use a cup of coffee and a bagel tomorrow morning. Have a great day.” That was a Monday. The man was seen having a bagel and coffee every day the rest of the week. It seems Stacy was very happy about having the lost money deposited in her account.
This weekend, Catholic parishes throughout the world are celebrating WORLD MISSION SUNDAY. Collections are taken for the Society of the Propagation of the Faith in order to support the work and witness of the mission of the Church. The liturgy speaks of the power of our witnessing to the difference Jesus makes in our lives. Hopefully, our servant attitude will demonstrate and inspire others with a caring heart and justice in action for the poor and vulnerable. We trust in the power of prayer, don’t we? We know that prayer is not magic. God is not a Genie in a bottle. We don’t say a prayer with the expectation that we will come out on the other end of our Lectio time fully grown in the Spirit, perfectly new, totally finished. As St. Teresa Avila, (whom we celebrated on yesterday) says: “Prayer is not just spending time with God…if it ends there, it is fruitless. Prayer is dynamic. Authentic prayer changes us.” And we know that it takes consistent effort to effect the words of a familiar hymn: “Make us true servants to all those in need, filled with compassion in thought, word and deed.”
~Reflection by Sister Roberta Bailey, OSB, Prioress
October is DOMESTIC AWARENESS month. You are invited to participate in a Virtual Prayer Service on October 26th, 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. The service is sponsored by the East Pasco Ministerial Association. Prayers will be of offered by the various NEPMA members including the Benedictine Sisters of Florida. We all offer a prayer for our neighbors, the residents of Pasco county and people throughout our world.
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