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(Mark 10:35-45)

James and John, the Zebedees, were especially close to Christ. John was referred to as the apostle that Christ loved. And Christ loved James for his great zeal in implementing the commands of Christ. With Peter, they were sort of special to Christ. And they knew it. So they dared to ask what the others could not ask: one to sit at the right and the other to sit at the left of Christ. 

The request James and John made was defective in that it showed a desire for a place of honor. And this infuriated the apostles who were also mistaken in that they were not supposed to entertain envy. 

So Christ corrected both of them saying: Here I am talking of suffering and there you are talking of honors. No one sits at My right or left. But if you want to be saved, you must be baptized and drink my cup. Meaning to say, you must live lives of repentance (i.e., a life of prayer, fasting and good works) and suffer for my sake...even undergoing martyrdom. And the first step towards this is to serve one another. 

What is "to serve one another"? St. Joan Thouret served the poorest of the poor by building a large hospital to minister to them. But she made it clear that serving the patients did not consist in bathing them, giving them medicines and comforting them. Serving them meant to lead them to the obedience of Christ's commands. The physical care can be done by pagans. True service can only be done by Christians. And when asked why he was tolerating his troublesome Jesuits, St. Ignatius answered: "If I can make one of them avoid sin, I would have served them." 

Christ ends by saying: If you serve one another, you will be with Me. But who will sit at My right and left...no one really deserves that. 




(updated 03-16-02)

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