Ambition and demand and how to cure them.
Today is the fifth Sunday of Lent and our Church is preparing us even more for Christ’s passion. We hear Christ Himself in the Gospel, speaking ever more clearly of His passion to His disciples and Apostles. While in last Sunday’s Gospel He told them that He would be given into the hands of men, generally and non-specifically, He now identifies these people, who are the Scribes and Hierarchs and the spiritual leaders of the Jews.
He continues and clearly tells them of His passion, that they will mock Him, they will crucify Him and that he will die. He also gives them the joyous news that, after three days, He will rise. This is what Christ does. When something huge and difficult is about to happen, He prepares us in His own way.
The Apostles however showed that they did not understand. James and John, two of His three favourites, even asked Him for something serious. They brushed aside the other Apostles, and having first set their mother, Salome, to do the asking, they asked Christ to give them the first two seats in His Kingdom. They believed that this kingdom would be an earthly one and they wanted to be FIRST. How evil is ambition - for one to want to trample on others in order to show himself and to be dominant. The Lord was saddened and reprimanded them. He also said, though, that there is good ambition! “You do not know what you are asking”, He said. Firstly, I am not going to create a temporal kingdom and secondly I am not seeking this sort of ascent, for that is the way to fall. I want the way of toil, sacrifice and grace”.
He then asked if they were able to drink of the cup that He was about to drink – that is, to die. They said “Yes”. One who is so ambitious, sees things in a different light and thinks that he can do all things, just to succeed in his aims. He also gives everything, just to succeed.
And the Lord said: “You will die as martyrs, but to receive your place on my right and on my left is not my doing, for it is God’s on the one hand and yours on the other, for the great seats need great toil and great sacrifices”.
When they heard this, the ten were indignant, for they too were ambitious and they too wanted the honour seats. “Why them and not us?”, they thought. This happens in our lives on earth, every day and every second. Even today, we see things and we suffer and the powers that be, want to lead nations, to impose their beliefs and ideas through violence, blood and oppression.
Jesus then took them aside, did not chastise them, neither did He advise them against what they were doing, but said: “Come here, my children. People here on earth do these things, but for us, things are different. Whoever wants to be great, must become a servant. And he who wants to be first, must become a slave to all. Do you want an example? Take me. I did not come to be served, but to serve. I did not come to sacrifice, but to be sacrificed and to give my life as a ransom for all, that all may be free”.
Therefore, the cure for ambition is humility and love. As Christ Himself did. If we want to, let us follow Him and we will be cured from all evil ambition and demand and everything negative and our lives will shine both here and in the eternal creation.