“Grant that in your glory we may sit one at your right and the other at your left.” (Mark 10:37)
It’s Friday night—family night at home, when everyone sits together to play a game or watch a movie on TV. As the mother sits on the sofa, two of her kids rush to join her, eager to have her arms around them as the movie starts. But the other three kids protest: “That’s not fair! They got to sit with you last week!” It may seem selfish of the two children to try to get the privileged spots again, but it is understandable. All the kids enjoy the affirmation and comfort of being close to their mother. In their minds, there’s no better place in the world than sitting right next to her!
Keep this scene in mind as you think about today’s Gospel reading, when James and John ask Jesus for special seats next to him when the kingdom of God comes. Of course, this is not the kind of behavior you would expect from grown men who had already been following Jesus for a few years, but it does give you some idea of why they made their request. It also helps explain the other disciples’ reaction. Who wouldn’t want to be as close to Jesus as possible?
Jesus pulls the rug out from under the disciples when he tells them that the most privileged position is the position of service, not of intimate comfort. Like the disciples, we all want the sense of intimacy and closeness to the Lord to go on forever. But part of growing up into Christ means learning to find him in the world as well as in our prayer. It means coming to the point where we discover him in the cry of the poor, in the fellowship of our brothers and sisters, and in the faithful living out of our vocations.
We should always keep seeking the Lord in personal prayer. But we should also remember how much he enjoys meeting us as we imitate him by pouring ourselves out for other people. How amazing that a life of service would bring us to such deep intimacy with the God of the universe!
“Jesus, I am amazed at all the ways you are with me. Open my eyes to see you today. Open my heart to feel your presence.”