Almighty God, you have knit together your elect in one communion and fellowship in the mystical body of your Son Christ our Lord: Give us grace so to follow your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those ineffable joys that you have prepared for those who truly love you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
As Jesus was on the way to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside privately and told them what was going to happen to him. “When we get to Jerusalem,” he said, “the Son of Man will be betrayed to the leading priests and the teachers of religious law. They will sentence him to die. Then they will hand him over to the Romans to be mocked, whipped, and crucified. But on the third day he will be raised from the dead.”
Then the mother of James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus with her sons. She knelt respectfully to ask a favor. “What is your request?” he asked.
She replied, “In your Kingdom, will you let my two sons sit in places of honor next to you, one at your right and the other at your left?”
But Jesus told them, “You don’t know what you are asking! Are you able to drink from the bitter cup of sorrow I am about to drink?”
“Oh yes,” they replied, “we are able!”
“You will indeed drink from it,” he told them. “But I have no right to say who will sit on the thrones next to mine. My Father has prepared those places for the ones he has chosen.”
When the ten other disciples heard what James and John had asked, they were indignant. But Jesus called them together and said, “You know that in this world kings are tyrants, and officials lord it over the people beneath them. But among you it should be quite different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must become your slave. For even I, the Son of Man, came here not to be served but to serve others, and to give my life as a ransom for many.”
James and John and their mother and the other ten are learning the lessons of grace. It is his effort, not ours; it is his achievements, not our own. Today is the festival of his work through the centuries, transforming and redeeming our petty squabbling selves into Temples of the Holy Spirit. Among us it must be different; we must all become servants and slaves.
The Lowest Place
Give me the lowest place: not that I dare
Ask for that lowest place, but Thou hast died
That I might live and share
Thy glory by Thy side.
Give me the lowest place: or if for me
That lowest place too high, make one more low
Where I may sit and see
My God and love Thee so.
—Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)