Dear disciples, James and John, from the Gospel accounts I realise that you both have a very close and compact family, blessed in many ways.
Your father, Zebedee, comes across as a hardworking and enterprising fisherman who owned at least one fishing boat and employed more than one worker. You both laboured along with your father who built up a successful family business. Some think that your father supplied fish to the high and mighty in Jerusalem and also owned a house in that capital city, maybe even personally knew Caiaphas, the High Priest.
Your mother, Salome (?), wanted you both to climb up the ladder of power and position. You both enlisted her support and entreated of Jesus a privileged position in His kingdom.
It is heartening to see that you both had a very healthy relationship with your father and had a very personal and persuasive closeness to your mother. She must have been a very courageous woman, to walk up to Jesus and make that request for her sons.
To some extent I feel envious of your closely knit family, both really fortunate and blessed to have had such a healthy childhood enjoying the loving presence and caring support of parents. Looking at my life, my father was a hard working farmer but depressed after the untimely death of his wife and my mother. I wasn’t even two months old when we lost her. Now you know why am I a bit envious of you!
Yet I am glad for you that you had a happy family and a healthy childhood. The Lord must have liked your hardworking, ambitious, and forthright approach to life. No wonder he groomed you both to be a part of his inner circle along with Peter. Despite the Lord denying your request, you both stuck with him as he helped you to grow and to see the stark realities of life. He helped you both and you cooperated with him. And as a result, your relationship with the Master grew closer and deeper.
Once along with your Master, on your way to Jerusalem, when the inhospitable Samaritans blocked your Master’s way, you wanted fire from heaven to come down and set them ablaze. As I look back to into my own past, I have had multiple instances where I was intolerant towards people and to ideas which were opposed or even different from mine. And I made known my intolerance through rough words and rude actions. I brooked no opposition…so much for me!
On a number of important occasions you were both there with your Master – when He raised the daughter of Jairus, when he experienced the glory of Transfiguration, when you witnessed his agonizing hours in Gethsemani. You never, even in your wildest dreams, thought that your desire to sit at the right and left of your Master would take you to Gethsemani and Calvary, did you!
Though Jesus, your Master, had turned down your request, you became neither angry nor depressed. Otherwise you wouldn’t have followed Him. You would have rather left him. You both accepted His call and followed Him for over three plus years.
And your approach to life changed. I am amazed at the way you both followed him to Gethsemani and accepted the tragic realities of Calvary. You grew by leaps and bounds out of your initial unbridled ambition. You both grew out of your inclination to violence in the face of obstacles and opposition.
Looking into myself, though close to becoming a seventy year old priest, my growth is rather stunted, my dreams are still infantile, and am often addicted to and stuck with my selfish ambition.
I want to grow up like you even in these sunset years of my life. I want to go through – and grow up through – my Gethsemani and Calvary and to experience and enjoy the bliss of Transfiguration and Resurrection.
Lord Jesus, You never ever scolded them for their raw ambition and the indignant intolerance of their youth. Instead, you accepted them patiently and helped them grow by challenging them to drink the cup, the cup of suffering. And they did!
Lord Jesus, while you were patient with them just for three plus years, in my case you have been accepting of me and been patient with me for well close to seventy years! Incredible indeed!
While James and John kept growing up fast, my growth is still at a snail’s pace! While they grew from being ambitious disciples into ardent apostles, I am still struggling to be a disciple! That’s most of me!!!
Lord Jesus, thank you for being patient with me all through these years of my life. As I look back innumerable are the occasions when you have shown immense patience towards me. Time and again you have been very patient with my unbecoming behaviours. You continue to be patient with me even now. You haven’t given up on me have you? I know you haven’t!
It makes me humble and challenges me to keep growing at a faster pace. I had better speed up as I am in the last lap of life.…I shall…
Lord, now I wish to spend some time in silence and listen to what you want to say to me. Surely you must have a lot to tell me? “Speak Lord, Your servant is listening”.
Dear disciples James and John, after listening to the Lord I want to listen to you as well…keep telling me your story of your transforming growth.
Joe Kallani sac [NA] – Cochin – INDIA
Aisan Bulletin #132