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Friends, in today’s Gospel, the mother of James and John asks Jesus in their name that they be honored in his kingdom.

Jesus patiently attends to their request and tries to clarify and redirect it. Then his final answer comes: “But to sit at my right and at my left, this is not mine to give but is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”

The Father has prepared the place for one who will reign with Jesus when he comes into his glory. On Good Friday afternoon, the good thief turned to the crucified Jesus and made a request that was similar to that of James and John: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And to him Jesus responded, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” 

This crucified criminal was indeed in the very place that James and John, in their naïve ambition, coveted. The one who was drinking the same cup of suffering as Jesus was privileged to reign with him. Let there be no limit to your ambition, as long as it conduces you to that place alongside of the crucified Christ.