Twenty Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Shakespeare tells a very sad story  about a man called Macbeth. He was a Lord in Scotland,  a good man, a good soldier, respected and admired by many.  He is also ambitious.  One day he meets three witches,  and they provoke his ambition; they make promises,  and now ambition takes control of his heart.  He wants to become King of Scotland at all costs.  He will stop at nothing.  His life ends in great tragedy for him and for others.  There are two kinds of ambition, there is healthy ambition, when one does one’s best  to achieve something in life,  in their career; in their family, in society, etc. There is also unhealthy ambition, which is a form of selfishness. This form of ambition can only bring unhappiness to ourselves and to others.  We all experience these kinds of ambition in our own hearts.  Even the apostles experienced these forms of ambition. In the gospel today, we see how John and James approach Jesus.  They think that he is going to be a king like other kings and that they  could be lords and princes in this new kingdom.  So they ask him if they can have the two most important places in his kingdom.  Jesus takes the opportunity to teach them a wonderful lesson.  If you want to be great, if you want to be first, then learn to serve and help others.  This is the only way to true happiness.  We have the example of Jesus himself who came to serve, and not to be served. We all remember the image of Jesus kneeling  in front of the apostles to wash their feet.  One of the most moving images of Holy week is that of Pope Francis going to Regina Coeli prison in Rome kneeling and washing the feet of the inmates on Holy Thursday.  This is an invitation to each one of us to ask ourselves: what kind of ambitions do I cherish?  what are the ideals that are guiding my life at this moment.  Never forget the words of Jesus: if you want to be first,  if you want to be great,  then learn to be helpful and serve