Stephen R. Clark ’88
How often do I think I’m one of the ten in this Gospel, when I’m really right there with James and John?
The ten get “angry” with James and John, and I imagine them scornfully thinking, “I would never ask Jesus to do ‘whatever I ask of him’ and I would certainly not ask to sit at his right or left.”
Yet, in my prayers, I frequently ask Jesus that my will be done, rather than thy will be done—not only “just this one time,” but fairly often, if I’m honest with myself. I find my prayers focused on how I want a particular situation resolved, how I want God to intervene for my benefit, instead of asking for the grace to recognize and accept God’s will. And I’m guilty of looking to exalt myself—for example, in desiring recognition for what I think is a good deed, whether I seek outright praise or just that someone else see me do it.
Recognizing the errors of James and John, Jesus re-orients all the disciples (which includes us) with three powerful lessons. One, do not lord authority, or piousness, over others. Two, those who will be exalted are those who humbly serve others, and who place themselves last. Three, if we live our lives by Jesus’ model, we will have a place at God’s eternal table, where the seating arrangement does not matter.
This simple prayer helps keep me focused on these lessons: Lord, thank you for the many gifts and blessings you have bestowed on me, and please grant me the strength to humbly do your will.