2nd Week of Lent
1st Reading: Jer 18:18-20
The people of Judah and the citizens of Jerusalem said, “Come, let us contrive a plot against Jeremiah. It will not mean the loss of instruction from the priests, nor of counsel from the wise, nor of messages from the prophets. And so, let us destroy him by his own tongue; let us carefully note his every word.” Heed me, O Lord, and listen to what my adversaries say. Must good be repaid with evil that they should dig a pit to take my life? Remember that I stood before you to speak in their behalf, to turn away your wrath from them.
Gospel: Mt 20:17-28
As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the Twelve disciples aside by themselves, and said to them on the way, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death, and hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and scourged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.” Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee approached Jesus with her sons and did him homage, wishing to ask him for something. He said to her, “What do you wish?” She answered him, “Command that these two sons of mine sit, one at your right and the other at your left, in your kingdom.” Jesus said in reply, “You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?” They said to him, “We can.” He replied, “My chalice you will indeed drink, but to sit at my right and at my left, this is not mine to give but is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.” When the ten heard this, they became indignant at the two brothers. But Jesus summoned them and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and the great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave. Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
LEAD BY EXAMPLE: Jeremiah is coming face to face with his enemies. They desire to destroy him. It reminds us of the many times we have gone through life challenges. How easy it is to give up! In the end God is in charge. He shall not allow us to lose eternal life, even if we are eliminated from the face of the earth. Jesus portrays a similar message. As disciples think of ensuring places of honor for themselves, giving little thought to what is going to unfold in front of them, Jesus reminds them of what lies ahead. This is the true way to exercise authority. He presents the image of the servant leader. In his kingdom this is the order he wishes to establish. He highlights the image with his own personal example, leading from the front. May we walk in his footsteps.
Prayer: Good God, You always challenges with ideals, help us to follow you closely.
DISCIPLESHIP NEEDS PURIFICATION OF INTENTION: It is interesting to compare the gospel text of today (Mt 20:17-28) with its parallel in the Gospel of Mark (Mk 10:35-45). Mark being the first of the gospels to be written, has the tendency of calling a spade a spade. It was indeed the two apostles in the close circle of Jesus, James and John, who went to ask for the seat on the right and left. By the time the Gospel of Matthew is being written, these two apostles are great leaders in the early church, therefore, to be polite to them, the writer of the Gospel of Matthew brings in the character of their mum. In any case, what does this story tell us. Even the close disciples of Jesus were ambitious for power. Jesus challenges that. He challenges us too. We should not use faith and church to fulfil our need for power. Jesus tells us, “Whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.”
LEADERSHIP – A LIFE OF SERVICE: “The son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give life as a ransom for many.” There is Greatness in service! This is a clarion call to our leaders whether in politics or in the church. Why do you seek an elective post or join a religious order? It is unfortunate that here in Africa people seek offices for the sake of wealth, power, and other selfish motives. Public utilities meant to help the poor are being plundered buy those who are supposed to be custodians. We have corrupt leaders who steal from the poor. Perhaps we have turned a blind eye to the suffering of others. We sometimes are so busy living our own lives, that we even forget our own families. What then is the reason for our existence? Would it be only to amass wealth or to become powerful people? Making a difference in someone’s life is a better way of finding fulfillment in our lives. Jesus shows us how He saves through self-giving and service.