The mother of James & John is looking out for her sons, and asks for a place of honour for them; wanting what she thinks is best for them. Instead of rebuking her for this prideful request, Jesus uses it as a point to help her and the Apostles see that “places of honour” in the Christian life and the heavenly kingdom require something very different from any other place of honour. Maybe Jesus understands mothers, knowing that love compels them to look out for their children, but he also knows the burden His own mother carries in her heart. “Do you know what you’re asking?” Many parents who are deep in faith don’t want their children to follow a religious vocation. They know that there is great sacrifice (and there is). But there is also great joy, great satisfaction to know that you are serving God in the way He desires.
In essence, Jesus speaks to us about the true commitment we make in our faith. Martyrdom, whether we ever have to give our life with the ultimate sacrifice is still what wins us the greatest honour. Giving our life for God and for others is truly the greatest seat of honour any of us can take. Think about it: whether we agree with the politics of our country or not, we applaud soldiers who give their lives in service of their country. Sometimes, we forget that Christians who give their lives for their faith are in fact giving their life for the heavenly kingdom and for us; that through their actions we might grow in faith and always have the freedom to do that.
Our Canadian Martyrs, especially St. Jean de Brébeuf and St. Gabriel Lalement are two saint-martyrs who inspired me to take that final leap and enter the seminary. My home is in the north, and I lived near Martyr’s Shrine in Midland. I would go to the shrine, and to St. Ignace, the site where these two martyrs were burned at the stake. I prayed there often, and as I was considering my vocation and part of me wanted to hold back, the spirit and story of these two men who sacrificed everything and so heroically, inspired me to make my decision. I often look to martyr-saints asking their prayers and intercessions as I make tough decisions and seek to live more fully my faith. Let us consider them, and our own life choices today. Let us remember that the place of honour comes with a price. Are you willing to pay it?