As Jesus journeyed to Jerusalem with the twelve apostles, he told them clearly what was waiting for him; betrayal, suffering and death on the Cross. The apostles didn’t want to hear the message – or perhaps they weren’t ready to accept it, as we see in today’s Gospel reading. Immediately after Jesus has warned the disciples of what he must suffer, James and John come to him, and ask for a special favour; the places of honour in his kingdom. They are thinking of Jesus as a worldly king, like Herod or Caesar, and they hope to secure a special place for themselves when he comes to power. The other ten apostles must be thinking in the same way, for they feel ‘indignant’ with the two brothers – perhaps wishing that they had thought to ask Jesus first.
Jesus calls the twelve apostles together, to teach them that, if they are to be leaders in his kingdom, they must follow his example. He has come not to be served, but to serve, and he will give his life to save us from our sins.
To be a leader in the Church is to be a servant of God’s people. Pope Francis shows us an example of Christian leadership. If, instead of serving others, we are seeking power and glory for ourselves, then we are not listening to the teaching of Christ.