“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.” (Mt 20:25-28)
I do not think I ever heard a single person say, “When I get my job, I want to be a low-level employee who has several bosses to whom I need to report.” No. I usually hear things like, “I am going to be the boss some day.” Power seems to be one of the things to which we are hard-wired.
In today’s Gospel, the mother of James and John comes to Jesus with a bold request. She wants her sons to sit at His right and His left when He comes into glory. In other words, she wants them to be powerful, certainly more important than the other Apostles, more important than anyone else aside from Jesus. The Apostles, as you can imagine, are indignant at that request.
But what was the source of their indignation? Were they upset at James and John for their bold request? Or, were they upset that James and John beat some of them to the punch? I think it was probably the latter; because, immediately afterwards, Jesus gathers them all together for a “talk”.
He admonishes them about being rulers. He reminds them about the rulers that they all know and whom they cannot stand. He tells them that rulers should not be overbearing and domineering and demand excessively of their subjects. He tells them that, if they want to be considered great, they need to become servants.
We have seen that theme before in our Lenten journey and we see it again today. Probably because we need to be reminded of it often. We should not crave to rule over others. Rather, we should do all that we can to supply for the needs of others. It is in building up others that we build up the Kingdom of God.
Our entire goal should be to please the Lord, not to establish ourselves as some kind of force with which to be reckoned.
FAITH ACTION: In the place where you are in authority — perhaps as a parent at home or as an employer in the workplace — try to “rule” humbly instead of with a heavy hand. Do the best you can to encourage others rather than dominate others.