Faith and Family

Faith and Family for October 17: Ambition of James and John


Mk 10:35-45 or 10:42-45

James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” He replied, “What do you wish me to do for you?” They answered him, “Grant that in your glory we may sit one at your right and the other at your left.” 


UNDERSTAND | By Father Greg Friedman, OFM

I’ve worked in Church communications for many years. Over that time I’ve met many public relations professionals—talented people who work hard to put out the positive stories about their companies or organizations.  Most are devoted to the truth, and deal with negative news honestly and directly. But I suspect some of them might have urged Mark, the author of today’s Gospel, to re-consider his portrayal of the disciples!

Mark doesn’t paint a very positive portrait. Throughout his Gospel, the disciples just don’t get it! They misunderstand Jesus’ message, engage in behavior contrary to his proclamation of the Kingdom, and abandon him at the end. 

Today’s passage is a good example, as James and John vie for the top jobs in the hierarchy—right next to the Lord himself. Once more, Jesus must make an example of such behavior, promising that these enterprising brothers will indeed share his lot. But through sharing the cup of suffering. His only wish is that they would choose that outcome through self-giving service.

In a way, I’m glad no one “cleaned up” Mark’s portrait of the disciples. It gives me some comfort to hear how they stumbled toward the Kingdom, when I consider my own failings!  Their humanness gives us hope that God will work in our lives and will patiently remind us, as Jesus does today, that true greatness comes through serving others.


DISCUSS | By Father Dan Kroger, OFM

According to the first reading (Is 53:10-11), the servant of God was crushed with what?

What will happen to this suffering servant?

Who was this suffering servant?

In this week’s second reading (Heb 4:14-16), who is the great high priest?

What is so special about this priest?

In the Gospel (Mk 10:35-45), what did the sons of Zebedee ask Jesus to do for them?

How did Jesus answer their request? How did the other apostles react?

Jesus then uses the chance to teach all the apostles an important lesson. What is that lesson?


Seek out ways in which you can act as a servant to others, such as volunteering somewhere that helps those in need. Or, if you can’t do that, do something to help out or lift up a friend.

Take some time and reflect on situations in which you have displayed a sense of privilege over others. Think about what you should have done differently and how it has help you grow.

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