Called to be messengers of peace
Wednesday Second Week of Lent
Reading: Matthew 20: 17-28
While Jesus was going up to Jerusalem he took the twelve disciples aside by themselves and said to them on the way. See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death; then they will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified; and on the third day he will be raised.’ Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to him with her sons, and kneeling before him, she asked a favour of him. And he said to her, ‘What do you want?’ She said to him, ‘Declare that these two sons of mine will sit, one at your right and one at your left, in your kingdom.’ But Jesus answered, ‘You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?’ They said to him, ‘We are able.’ He said to them, ‘You will indeed drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left, this is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.’
When the ten heard it, they were angry with the two brothers. But Jesus called them to him and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many..’
Reflection In this passage, Jesus is preparing his disciples for what is about to happen to him. Sensitive to their need for privacy, He takes them aside to break bad news and to them and to forewarn them of what is to come; ‘the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death; then they will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified;’ No indication of their response to this shattering news is offered; instead the actions of a concerned mother for her sons is shared with us. Oblivious to the magnitude of her request, she asks that the best seats in the kingdom of God are reserved for her sons; Jesus responds to this request by asking them if are able to share in his cross and they respond that they are. This response may suggest a certain lack of insight into the reality that may be offered to them and to me when Jesus asks me to share in his cross. Jesus shows us a different way to enter his kingdom. He asks us to be servants of all and messengers of peace and goodwill. (Romans 10:15) Like St. Paul we have been ‘set apart before I was born and called through his grace’ (1 Galatians: 15) so that we might proclaim the goodness and mercy of God to all by acts of loving service to all but especially to those most in need.
We are asked not to seek the status of the world but to be ‘servants of all.’ This is the key to our happiness and the way into the kingdom of heaven. We are reminded that an essential element of the discipleship of Christ is that the chosen of God ‘deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.’ (Matthew 16:24)
I am reminded that I may on occasion ask favours of God without realising what I am asking. I need to be dependent on God’s grace each day to walk in God’s way and not the way of the world where power and status draw people away from the kingdom of God.
I ask for the grace to keep my mind and heart
focused on God’s kingdom and its justice.
May I ask each day for the grace to carry
the cross that has been placed on my shoulders;
the cross placed by the Lord,
not the one that I may choose for myself.
May my sharing in His cross draw me ever closer
to my Lord each moment of my life, Amen.