In the gospel today we have the worst kind of blatant ambition. Matthew tries to save the two apostles by putting the request in the mouth of their mother, Luke does not.
Most of us may not see ourselves as ambitious. But which of us does not want some kind of recognition of our work, praise for a job well done? And certainly we should praise people when they do well. If children do not receive proper attention for good behavior, they will resort to bad.
The real question is how do we respond when the praise does not come. How do we respond when our work goes unappreciated, unacknowledged or even unnoticed? Can we be at peace even there (presuming that we are still being paid a just wage)?
If we cannot be at peace with only God's approbation, then we are still to some degree ambitious.
By ambition I am not talking about the striving we should all do: to be a better person, to continue to learn, to advance along life's path. Striving to constantly move forward is a virtue. Ambition is striving + a need for recognition.
Among the things we give up for Lent, can we add ambition? If some recognition comes in this life we should graciously accept it. But we should never seek it.
The apostles in today's reading want not only to accompany Jesus but they want recognition. The good news is they still became saints and so can we.