I don’t know about you, but I could not stand to be picked on as a kid. I would do anything to go along and get along; not because I believed in what everyone was doing, but simply because it was easier. If I stood out, I wanted it to be because I did something heroic, like save a life or stop a runaway car. There was no way I wanted to be known as a sissy or softy. Heck, I was a great athlete and top hockey player. I had a reputation to uphold.
Today we hear about James and John, who want to “sit” at a place of heroic honor. This is not necessarily because they were egomaniacs, but simply because it is easier to see ourselves as a hero than to see ourselves as a servant. Our human limitations include a need to be known as important. However, we read today a new definition of hero.
Maybe it would be easier to think of today’s readings this way: In the Church, we sometimes call a “hero” who suffers for the faith a martyr. There are all kinds of martyrs in the world. Some we know and are recognized by the Church, but most of whom we don’t know. Simply put, a martyr is someone who stands up for truth, for a fellow human being and/or in defense of the Gospel, regardless of the verbal or physical persecution they may endure. Our schools and Churches are filled with unknown and unofficial “martyrs” who seek to lift others up before they lift themselves up. A Catholic martyr would want to see their fellow human being sit at the Lord’s right or left before they do. Our question and challenge this week is: Do my normal actions and behavior seek to lift myself up or lift up others first? What do I need to do to become more like our Catholic heroes: martyrs and servants of the faith?