There is a legend of a man who got lost in the desert and was dying of thirst. He stumbled upon an abandoned house. Outside the dilapidated, deserted shack was a pump. He rushed forward and began pumping furiously but in vain. Then he noticed a jug of water along with a note which read: “You must prime the pump with water and remember to refill it before you leave.”
As he grabbed the water, he thought, “what if it doesn’t work?” Following his gut-level feeling, he poured the entire jug of water down the rusty old pump. Sure enough, the water gushed out as he moved the handle of the pump up and down! As instructed, he filled the jug and added a little note below the existing instruction; “Believe me, it works! But you have to give it all away before you can get anything back.”
In today’s gospel, Mrs. Zebedee asks Jesus, “Declare my two sons, James and John, will sit, one at your right hand and one at your left.” She wanted them to be great in the eyes of the world. But she must have been surprised when Jesus responded: “whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.” In other words, “you have to give it all away before you can get anything back.” Self-emptying is a prerequisite for lasting glory.
Think about the sacrifices we make for our children, the sleepless nights, the hours we spend in the hospitals, all the expenses for their education and clothing, the tears we shed for them. We do all these for our children because we love them and want them to succeed. And, of course, we pray for them. But do we reflect on what we ask for in our prayers: what are our concerns? Are we asking only for worldly success and recognition for them as Mrs. Zebedee did for her sons? Or are we asking that they prepare to follow Jesus by serving others? They need the forgiveness of sins. They need a more profound and personal spiritual commitment and relationship with family and God. They need accompaniment to be in touch with themselves and God.
Let our families be a place where our children learn the values of self-sacrifice and self-emptying … where they learn to give their all!
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About Father Jilson Tom, C.S.C.
Father Jilson Tom, C.S.C. is from the Northeast India Province of Holy Cross. A native of Kerala, Father Jilson has been serving in a parish and school ministry since his ordination twelve years ago. He joins the Family Rosary team as an Assistant, while he works to study Pastoral Counseling in the Boston area. With a personal devotion to Mother Mary, Father Jilson is thrilled to be working to enhance family prayer through the Rosary. And if you ever need a listening ear or want to play a board game, Father Jilson’s your guy!