Desire Greatness? Be a Servant!
Malvern Minute


July 25, 2017 – Feast of Saint James, Apostle

Mark J. Poletunow, Malvern President (

Click for: Readings for the day (From the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops)

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew (20:20-28)

The mother of the sons of Zebedee approached Jesus with her sons
and did him homage, wishing to ask him for something.

He said to her,
“What do you wish?”
She answered him,
“Command that these two sons of mine sit,
one at your right and the other at your left, in your Kingdom.”

Jesus said in reply,
“You do not know what you are asking.
Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?”

They said to him, “We can.”
He replied,
“My chalice you will indeed drink,
but to sit at my right and at my left, this is not mine to give
but is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”
When the ten heard this,
they became indignant at the two brothers.

But Jesus summoned them and said,
“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them,
and the great ones make their authority over them felt.
But it shall not be so among you.
Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant;
whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.
Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served
but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”


Reflect: Whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave. Jesus huddles with the apostles to remind them about two virtues that will be essential to their discipleship: humility and service. Apparently, they were bent out of shape by the intercession from “the mother of the sons of Zebedee”, James and John, asking that her sons have a privileged position with Jesus.  Before the jealousy and judgement get out of hand, Jesus tries to reel-in the apostles. Greatness isn’t based on position and status. Greatness is based on one’s ability to serve others and to put the light on the one who deserves the light – Jesus – who, in turn, directs everyone to his heavenly Father. Today, we celebrate the Feast of Saint James, one of the sons of Zebedee who went on to do outstanding service for the Kingdom of God that eventually led to his martyrdom. Pride and arrogance can be roadblocks for many of us. We desire to be in control and to possess power over others. It’s tough being seen as second (or third or fourth…) and to deflect attention from ourselves. In our society of fame, fortune, and power Jesus invites us to be countercultural. He asks that we follow his example and develop a genuine attitude of service and humility; not what I need, but rather how can I serve the needs of others, especially for those most in need. “Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?”

Questions: In what ways is Jesus inviting me to put aside my pride and desire for control? How might Jesus be calling me to a deeper conversion of heart through service to others?  How can I turn over my life in confidence and trust to Jesus and seek his Kingdom first before anything else?

Pray: Loving God, purify my heart. Help me to seek you and your Kingdom above anything else. Give me a spirit of humble service so that I might unite myself with you and honor you by the way that I conduct myself in this earthly journey.  I pray this in the powerful and perfect name of Jesus. Amen.

Saint James: Pray for us!

James, the brother of John, is called “the Greater” because he followed Christ before the other apostle of the same name. He was part of Jesus’ inner circle of Apostles. He witnessed the cure of Peter’s mother-in-law, the raising of Jairus’ daughter, Jesus’ Transfiguration, and his agony in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Because of his unwavering trust in the message of Jesus, he was also the first of the Twelve to be martyred, being decapitated by order of Herod Agrippa I in about the year 44. He is venerated at Compostella, Spain; named in the Roman Canon. He is patron of pilgrims, of Spain, Guatemala and Nicaragua.



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