Time and again the disciples just don’t get it. And for that, we can take great consolation.

It’s easy to criticize James and John for missing Jesus’ message in favor of their own self-interest. But deep down, we know that our own petty concerns often cloud our relationship with Jesus.

Thankfully, Jesus is patient with the disciples and with us. Time and again he reveals that having a seat in the kingdom isn’t about winning a competition or gaining power over others. It’s about radical love and serving others.

In his Spiritual Exercises, Saint Ignatius invites us to walk with Jesus through four weeks or “movements.” In the first two, we come to know ourselves as loved sinners and respond in generosity by serving God and others to the best of our ability. In the third week, we contemplate the Cross and God’s faithfulness and love for us. In the final week, we are sent forth by the Risen Christ to find God in all things and serve the world in concrete ways.

Today, how can we “get it” by focusing on God’s love and serving wherever there is a need, no matter how small?

—Jeremy Langford is the director of communications for the Midwest Jesuits and author of  Seeds of Faith: Practices to Grow a Healthy Spiritual Life ©2007 Paraclete Press, Brewster, MA.