"The mother of Zebedee's sons came up to Him accompanied by her sons, to do Him homage and ask of Him a favor." —Matthew 20:20
The mother of James and John was an expert in "religious selfishness." Many of us are also experts in this type of selfishness. When we pray, God answers with the question: "What is it you want?" (Mt 20:21) God, Who reads our hearts, knows that we sometimes pray not to get His will but our will, not to please Him as much as to please ourselves. Even when we pray for someone else, we're still thinking: "What's in it for me?" When we pray, we ask God to make promises to us rather than making promises of our love to Him (Mt 20:21). The Lord's attitude toward our attitude of selfishness is: "You do not know what you are asking" (Mt 20:22). We don't know the nature of prayer, love, and the Christian life.
In His mercy, Jesus tries to break the spell of self by leading us to serve others and lay down our lives for them (Mt 20:26-28). Only the love of the cross is stronger than selfishness. Only crucified love will free us from the prison of self (see 2 Cor 5:15).
Jesus took the mother of James and John to the cross when her son James was beheaded (Acts 12:2). There she found the true meaning of prayer, love, and life. Jesus is also calling us to crucify our selfishness at His cross. Make the way of the cross.
Prayer: Father, may I pray in the shadow of the cross.
Promise: "Continually we carry about in our bodies the dying of Jesus, so that in our bodies the life of Jesus may also be revealed." —2 Cor 4:10
Praise: St. James was such a powerful evangelist that his enemies were "pleased" to see him beheaded (Acts 12:3).
Rescript: †Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, December 18, 2014
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