Even with their good teacher, the companions would keep their all too human ideas until the last possible day. They thought that it was in establishing a new political regime, through revolution and a coup d’etat if necessary, that God’s rights would finally be recognized. Jesus with his incredible powers seemed able to overthrow any army and wipe out all the wrongdoers on earth. He was holding off for now, but he undoubtedly had a secret plan. The Day would come and he would go into action; they, his faithful companions, would occupy the top posts in his new regime.
This is what they talked about, a couple of paces behind Jesus’ back, as they walked the roads of Palestine. Since they dared not themselves express their secret ambitions to Jesus, the two hotheads among them, James and John, one day asked their mother to speak for them. She sometimes went along with the caravan of Jesus’ intimates and was of great service to the small wandering community. So there she found herself, prostrate before Jesus’ feet with a look of supplication. Her two sons stood nearby. They wanted Jesus to grant their request even before he knew what they were asking: “Master, promise us that you’ll grant what our mother asks.”
But Jesus wasn’t happy with this at all: “Look, what do you want?” So the mother explained her request: “Promise me that my sons here will have the highest places at your side on the day of your triumph” (she meant to refer to the new regime she thought he was going to establish).
“You really don’t have any idea what you’re asking for,” Jesus responded to James and John. “Are you first willing to drink the bitter cup of suffering I must drink? To go all the way with me in my misery?”
“Sure we’re ready for anything.”
“That’s true, one day you will know my suffering,” Jesus replied as he thought of their future. “But as for what you ask, that is my Father’s business.”
James and John were ambitious and naive. They hoped for human success in the kingdom of God. It was a big mistake; but they easily realized this and tried to make amends, for they passionately loved Christ.
Written by Father Menard in his book At All Times.