Sometimes we ask questions that we have not thought through well, questions that we probably do not really want to hear the answers to.

James and John, the sons of Zebedee, ask Jesus such a question. They want a favour: seats on Jesus’ right and left when he is in glory. They were not expecting the reply that Jesus gave. Instead of giving them an answer, Jesus asks a very sobering question: “Can you drink the cup that I drink or be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” The metaphor of drinking the cup is used in the Old Testament to refer to acceptance of the destiny assigned by God.

James and John are worried about their positions, perhaps their social standing. We all know people, who, like James and John, always want to ensure they are close to those they perceive to have some status. We know people in our families and communities who try to manipulate things so that they are seated, so to speak, on the right and left of those they deem important, those who, they think, can further their own interests in life.

There is something really annoying being in the presence of such people ­–who like James and John, are always “jostling” for position. Notice how Jesus, after their question, gives them a lesson in leadership.

There are three things we learn this weekend: leadership is about service, listening is THE way of the servant leader and the chalice always accompanies the servant leader.

Join Fr Russell Pollitt SJ as he reflects on the Scriptures for the Twenty-Ninth Sunday of the Year.

Read the texts in your Bible or hover your mouse over the references below to see the texts.

Isaiah 53:10-11; Psalm 33:4-5,18-20,22; Hebrews 4:14-16; Mark 10:35-45.

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