I nearly did a facepalm when I read Saints James and John's words today:
"Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you" (Mark 10:35).
Though their request was shrouded in some very good intentions (perhaps being close to Christ, finding joy in the beauty of the kingdom, and so on), their true intention wasn't quite that. What these brothers really wanted, bless their hearts, were two seats in Heaven's V.I.P. section. And, to make matters all the more facepalm-worthy, James and John wanted Jesus to ensure they got the recognition they felt they deserved.
It's a cringe-worthy scriptural moment if there ever was one.
But Jesus tells James and John (along with their indignant fellow disciples), that they've got it all wrong: true greatness isn't found in power or in glory but in the pouring out of ourselves as Christ did on the Cross. True greatness is found in gifting ourselves to another, like this woman, this man, or this family are doing. This, my dear sisters, is the self-gift that fills our hearts and makes our own humanity make sense, even when the world around us might seem cold and senseless.
If you are already thinking to yourself, "Oh man, I can't live up to those examples!" fear not. Because their call to self-gift is theirs and theirs alone. Our Lord already has His plan in mind for how you will give your heart. Spend some time today asking Him for the ability to be attentive to it.
Perhaps the great mercy of today's reading is knowing that despite James and John's self-absorbed request, we can have faith that they were not denied the kingdom. Jesus saw their weaknesses and their foolish desires, and He sees ours, too. He sees all of our cringe-worthy thoughts and our facepalm moments. He sees our moments of greed and self-righteous indignation. He loves us anyways. He comes alongside us. And He calls us to be the self-gift that He has intended since the dawn of creation.
May our prayer today be less of James and John's "Do this for me now (please)" and more of "How can I serve Your kingdom today?"
Karen Schultz hails from the Land of 10,000 lakes, where she is often found in or near one of them. As a doula, lactation educator, and FertilityCare Practitioner, she finds joy in helping women to embrace the gift of their bodies. Downtime is found in quiet adoration chapels, farmers markets and gardens, listening to bluegrass music, and embracing the diversity of Minnesota’s seasons. You can find out more about her here.