We humanoids really are a “controlling” bunch, aren’t we? What do you think would happen if God gave in to our every whim and wish? “Hey God, if you let me win lotto, then I’ll give 90% of the winnings to the poor…” Think about it: are the circumstances of the poor really on my mind, or is it that other 10% that I am thinking about? If the poor really mattered to us, we wouldn’t worry about winning lotto; we would be doing everything within our means to help them right now, not waiting for the lotto results.
It’s all about attitude. James and John (and their mother) misunderstood what the “kingdom” was all about. They were still thinking that Jesus would be establishing his rule on this earth, like King David did centuries before. So since they were very close to Jesus, it seemed only “logical” to them that he would pick his friends to be his chief officers. But even with that misunderstanding, their attitude was clearly “selfish” and controlling – they wanted to put their bid in for the best positions - before the other apostles could.
It would take more time, but eventually all of the apostles would understand. The way of life in the kingdom of God, and the attitude that is required, is one that reflects only concern for God and concern for others. This is a life of Servanthood. We’re not called to be controllers, but to be servants. There is a gigantic difference in the attitudes connected with each of those two choices. So, as a disciple of Jesus, how would you describe your attitude towards the immigrant, the refugee from Syria, the poor, the diseased and the fallen away? Is your love for each and your unconditional willingness to serve them still fully intact?
Jesus is our model of selflessness; he submitted himself entirely to his Father’s will out of love for us. We have this possibility of becoming “partners” with Jesus, to be a servant just like him because as the Catechism tells us, “there is no other ladder by which we may get to heaven”.