Updated: Oct 16, 2021
(Adults, you could read the first paragraph of the reflection to the child, then read the Gospel, and then continue with the reflection.)
In the Gospel for this Sunday, Jesus and his twelve friends are still walking to Jerusalem. It is a very long walk and takes many days. As they walk, Jesus teaches the twelve many things about the Kingdom of God. He tries to explain about dying and rising to new life, never to die again. What do his friends think about all this? In the Gospel for this Sunday, we hear what two of his friends, James and John, are thinking.
James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And he said to them, “What is it you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.”
What are James and John thinking about? Sitting! We can understand that! If they have been walking for days, of course, they want to sit!
They want to sit right beside Jesus. We can understand that, too. Of course, they want to be near to him. They love him.
They want to sit beside Jesus in his glory. This part is harder to understand. God has glory. Glory is how MAGNIFICENT God is. James and John are thinking about Jesus in all of God's glory. They are thinking about Risen Life, life that never ends in death—eternal life.
Aha! They have been listening to Jesus! Perhaps they are starting to understand.
But Jesus says,
“You do not know what you are asking.
They are thinking about Risen life, but they have forgotten what has to happen first.
“The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized
Jesus says that James and John will share his cup. What cup could this be?
Jesus also says James and John will share the same baptism as him. They will be together in baptism. We are baptized, too. We wonder if we, too, are together with Jesus in the same baptism.
Jesus tells all the twelve something important about himself, something important about the Kingdom of God. Jesus says that he comes,
not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.
What can this mean?
We remember that Jesus and his friends are on their way to Jerusalem. In Jerusalem, they celebrate the Last Supper. At the Last Supper, Jesus takes a cup filled with wine and gives it to his friends. He serves them the wine. All of them drink from this cup. Could this be the cup that Jesus is talking about with James and John?
At the Last Supper, when he serves them the cup, Jesus tells them something important about the wine. He says,
This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.
The wine is his blood. Can we live without our blood? No, we need blood for life. Jesus gives his life in a cup filled with wine. He must love his friends very much. We wonder, though, how can Jesus live without his life?
When Jesus pours out his life, when he dies on the cross, his disciples forget all that Jesus has said about the Kingdom of God. They forget that he comes to serve. They forget that he comes to give his life. They think that this is the end. Who can live without their life?
Jesus shows us something important about life in the Kingdom of God. When Jesus serves, when he gives his life, God fills him with new Risen life, life that will never end. Jesus is Risen; he will never die again.
Jesus says he pours out his life for many. He says he gives his life as a ransom for many. A ransom is something that is given so that someone else may have life. Who has life because Jesus serves, because Jesus gives his life?
Jesus serves James and John. They share his cup. They share his baptism, too. Do they also share in his new Risen life? Now do they sit together with Jesus in all of God's glory?
When people gather at Mass, Jesus serves them. They share his cup. They share his baptism, too. Do they also share in his new Risen life? Will they also sit together with Jesus in all of God's glory?
Jesus serves so many people. He gives his life so that so many people can share his new Risen life. We share his baptism, and one day we will share his cup, too. We are together with Jesus. How much he loves us!