How important are hierarchies to us?  Do we continually look up to people who hold positions of great status and / or power?  Or, if we are one of these people, do we have a smug sense of superiority when we are asked what job we do?  However, the most important question is what did Jesus think of hierarchies?  The Gospel reading for this week is the account of James and John asking for a special privileged place with Jesus in heaven.  Why did James and John think that they deserved this, above the other disciples?  Perhaps it was their family connections.  The fact that we know their father’s name suggests that he was a man of influence.  Perhaps it was because they were part of what some scholars have called Jesus’ inner circle, along with Peter.  For example, it was Peter, James and John who were present at the transfiguration and none of the others.  We don’t know their motives but what we do know is Jesus’ response.  In effect, Jesus says it is not about hierarchies at all.  He cites those Gentile rulers who ‘lord it over’ their subjects as an example of the wrong way for his followers to behave.  Instead says Jesus, ‘whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant and whoever wants to be first must become the slave of all’.  Of course, Jesus not only said these words but modelled them in his own life and death where he came ‘not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many’.  Although these words are well known, I wonder how often we take them to heart?  If we are serious about being a disciple of Jesus Christ we have to shed all forms of self-importance and start serving others.