Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Wednesday of the Second Week of Lent

(Jeremiah 18-20; Matthew 20:17-28)

When politicians and prelates go to Rome, they often have one objective in mind.  They want to be photographed with the pope.  They may have only ten minutes with the Holy Father, not enough time to exchange more than niceties.  But that is all right with them.  A picture with the pope in the newspapers back home raises their status in the eyes of the people.  Perhaps the mother of James and John harbors a similar motive when she approaches Jesus.  She asks him to place her sons on either side of him in glory.  She wants her sons to be seen as people of importance.

Interestingly Jesus does not reject the sons because of the ambition of their mother.  Rather he questions their willingness to sacrifice themselves for him.  When they seem genuinely ready to suffer on his behalf, Jesus affirms their courage.  He knows that they need his help to fulfill their commitment to him as disciples.

All of us do but especially those who face terminal illness.  The pain, the loneliness, and the anger that many experience facing death makes them want to do something outrageous.  Some want to show themselves as masters of their life by taking it.  Others try to imitate the super-wealthy by taking a lavish trip.  Others desire to curse their enemies.  We are wise to reject these temptations by becoming a servant as Jesus recommends.  We do this by seeking reconciliation with adversaries and by exemplifying submission to God’s will.