Jeremiah 18:18–20; Psalm 31:5–6, 14, 15–16; Matthew 20:17–28
To read today’s Gospel, one would think that Jesus’ apostles could have really used a public-relations advisor! The story of the mother of James and John, requesting places for her sons at Jesus’ right and left hands in his kingdom, does not reflect well on these followers of the Lord. What makes it worse, Jesus has just predicted his passion and death. Were they even listening?
At least, the arrogant request gives Jesus the opportunity to challenge James and John to share in his sufferings. He goes on to urge his followers not to imitate the gentile rulers and their hangers-on. Instead, they are to seek to serve if they want to rank first in the kingdom. Why did the early church retell this and other stories that show Jesus’ disciples as slow to understand him and even cowardly in the face of his arrest, trial, and death? Perhaps one reason is that the tradition remembered these stories, and the evangelists worked them into their narrative to show the humanness of the church at its very beginning.
God’s power was certainly at work from the start. Jesus’ resurrection and the gift of his Holy Spirit transformed these first followers into witnesses. Jesus remains with the Church until the end of time, strengthening it, forgiving the sins of its leaders and faithful, and continuing to offer the way of the cross as our way to humble service and salvation.
Today’s Action Pick an opportunity to be of service to someone today, even if only within your own family or at work.
Suffering Lord, may we walk with you on the way of the cross. Strengthen us to let go of selfish ambition and join you in serving others. Amen.