Years ago a group of us priests were at a meeting with someone who spent his life in advertising. He wanted to talk to us about how he thought the message of the gospel should be presented in our preaching. He said we should be positive and upbeat in a way that would make the message attractive and appealing. It makes sense. The product you are selling is something that people want to have.
In today’s Gospel the mother of the sons of Zebedee asks Jesus that they be given the seats of left and right in the kingdom. Jesus turns to them and asks “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?” Jesus is asking them whether or not they are able and willing to share in his destiny and suffering. With great confidence they replied “we can”.
I don’t think they realised what this meant when they answered Jesus. In fact we read in the Acts of the Apostles “About that time Herod the king laid violent hands upon some who belonged to the church. He killed James the brother of John with the sword.” Jesus was making clear that the life he was offering was one of service. This is a presentation of the gospel that might not appear attractive and appealing. “Being a follower of Jesus is great. It will change your life. You will be called to embrace a life of service.”
Today we pray for all Church leaders that they resist the temptation to use their position for their own advancement. We pray for political leaders that they may understand that their power is a means of serving the nation in justice and honesty. Let us pray that we may be generous in giving time and attention to others.