Be careful what you ask for, you might get it. Sounds silly, but it is a reminder that the things want often come with a price, a price we did not expect, and a price we may not wish to pay. I remember many years ago as a child watching a show about a young boy who had only one eye. People, particularly other children, teased him mercilessly. He was miserable, he hated enduring all the teasing he took for having only one eye, and wanted something to happen to stop the torment he felt. He dreamed of a day when people would stop tormenting him because he had only one eye. One evening, while watching a fireworks display, a stray spark struck the boy, struck him in his good eye. Suddenly he was blind, instead of one eye, he had none. The teasing he endured the torment he had faced certainly ended. I doubt he wanted it to end the way it did, but in the end he did get what he asked for. In the Gospel today the sons of Zebedee, James and John, approach Jesus asking that when Jesus comes into his glory they be seated one on his right and one on his left. Jesus essentially tells them to be careful of what they are asking for, they may get it. He warns them they must follow his path, the path of the suffering servant. They are seeking glory, Jesus warns them they will find hardship, difficulty, pain, death. He also warns them that the path to glory is not a path of leadership that lords over people, but it is rather a path that leads through service. To follow Christ, to get what they seek, they must be ready to suffer and to serve. To follow Christ they must follow the example of Christ and serve others, serve those who would seem to be beneath them. Christ wants them to understand no one is beneath them, no service is too menial, no person unworthy of their work. Glory is not what they think. Real glory is found in being ready to serve, being ready to suffer, in the pouring out of self. We who seek to follow Christ, we who wish to share in the glory of Christ, who may wish to be seated on Christ’s right or left, we must understand what real glory is. Glory has a price, a price we must be willing to pay. Real glory comes to us when we pour ourselves out, when we share what we have, what we are, with those some may deem unworthy of our love. To lead we must serve. To find Christ and share in Christ’s glory, we must be willing to give who we are. We must understand what it is we are asking for.
Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Oct. 18, 2009