March 16, 2022 – Wednesday Second Week of Lent

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There was a friend of mine who applied to a government agency for a job. Though, he had the best qualifications being a graduate with honors in college, being competent in his field and being creative, he could not secure the position that he was applying. There was something lacking in him. He had no “connection” inside that office. There was no one who could recommend him or somebody from the higher office who could be his “backer.”

This is known as the “Padrino System” or patronage in our Filipino culture and politics. It is a value system where a person gains favor, or promotion, or political appointment through family affiliation (called as nepotism) or through friendship (called as cronyism), as opposed to one’s merit.[1]

This kind of culture tells us that we use our relationships to advance or to secure a particular job or position in an office. Thus, people have to secure a good connection with those who are above so that they too shall be accepted or promoted. Such culture also can be very problematic since the basic qualification of the hiring or promotion is not according to the one’s merit, quality of work, capacity and potential of the person. With this kind of culture, the quality of work may be compromised and corruption and dishonesty would most likely happen.

Well, such attitude was also heard in our Gospel reading today. we were told that the mother of James and John, who was believed to be Salome, was a sister of Mary, the Mother of Jesus. She expressed her desire for her two sons. She asked Jesus to make James and John sit at the side of Jesus when he becomes king. Being a close relative to Jesus, she used that relationship to secure what she wanted for her sons.

As a mother, she was thinking of the future of her two sons and concerned of the honor that she will enjoy as mother to them. The brothers were surely not ignorant to this request from their mother. They must have liked this idea very much. However, this request had a selfish intention.

This was of total self-centeredness. They wanted security for their future and wanted to be placed first among the rest of their group. They thought on what they can gain from Jesus and on what Jesus can give to them. They were only concerned about their personal promotion. This was the reason why the other 10 disciples were angry because of their unjust intention.

However, this attitude of the two and their mother was criticized by Jesus because of its selfish and self-entitled mentality. Discipleship is not about to be served or to enjoy a privileged status or to be above others. It is neither about being able to enjoy riches, influence and power. Being a disciple of Jesus is not about self-promotion and self-entitlement. Therefore, by being a disciple we cannot demand “to have this and to have that” attitude as if we become the boss. But rather, to be a disciple is to be a servant of others, closely following the Lord in words and in deeds.

Today, we are called to examine our motivations and intentions.

We may ask ourselves, “Am I only concerned about myself, on what I can gain from others and from God? Do I demand from others that I must be served first, be always addressed with honorifics? Am I more concerned of the titles and achievements I have? In doing my responsibilities, do I give more tasks to other and pass them the burden, rather than spearheading it? When I pray, do I only utter what I need and want rather than listening to what God wants for me? Do I also publicize to others how important I am so that I will be served rather than to serve?”

[1] Definition from


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