8th Week in Ordinary Time, Wednesday, Year I

James and John in today’s Gospel are on a different wavelength than Our Lord: Jesus has just told them of his impending Passion, Death, and Resurrection, and all they are thinking of is the glory and the share of the glory they’ll receive. Jesus warns them that they are not on the Christian wavelength of glory: it is through the Cross that we achieve the only glory that matters–serving and pleasing God in gratitude for all he has done for us.

James and John are on the wavelength of ambition; Jesus is on the wavelength of service. In the exercise of authority it is very easy to switch from one to the other, usually in the direction of ambition, which is driven by self-interest either to the exclusion or detriment of the interests of others. James and John’s ambition provokes an immediate reaction from the other disciples: they know ambition when they see it and see their ambitions being infringed upon as well. When Jesus asks James and John whether they are prepared to receive the same baptism as him, and drink the same chalice, he is asking them whether they’re ready to suffer. In the end they will, to their credit: James was beheaded, as the Acts of the Apostles recalls, and John was exiled and imprisoned and, according to tradition, miraculously survived an attempt to execute him. But Jesus also touches on the key to not switching from the wavelength of service to ambition: recognizing that if you seek any place or path for your life, it should be out of a desire to serve, and, ultimately, you don’t have a right to it. Even Jesus himself takes the place and the path willed by the Father, and he does so as an example to us.

Let’s strive today to seek the place and path for our lives where we can best serve others, not just ourselves.

Readings: Sirach 36:1, 4–5a, 10–17; Psalm 79:8–9, 11, 13; Mark 10:32–45.

8th Week of Ordinary Time, Monday, Year I

In today’s Gospel we hear of the man who will go down in history as the Rich Young Man. Perhaps he wanted to make a name for himself, but in the end he anonymously provides an example down through the centuries of “don’t let this happen to you”: don’t leave anything off limits to God, because sooner or later it will come between you and him. In the spiritual life we can form unhealthy attachments to things–wealth, health, relationships, etc.–and we can lose sight of the fact that everything we have and are is a gift from God, and should be used to serve him and to serve others.

The Rich Young Man today was loved by Our Lord, and that was why Jesus told him he had to make a choice. He had put his possessions and what they could be put to use for off limits, and, like a jealous lover, Our Lord told him, “it’s me or them: pick.” The Rich Young Man made the wrong choice. Many of the first Christians were called by nicknames, and who knows if the Rich Young Man was called to be Saint Generous or Saint Magnanimous.

Let’s ask Our Lord to show us today whatever there is in our life that we may be putting off limits to God, or may come between us and him. What’s important is to make the resolution to change, and, as Jesus promises the disciples, with God all things are possible.

Readings: Sirach 17:20–24; Psalm 32:1–2, 5–7; Gospel Mark 10:17–27.