March 3rd, 2021

Matthew 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.”

Opening Prayer: Keep your family, O Lord, schooled always in good works, and, so comfort them with your protection here as to lead them graciously to gifts on high. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God forever and ever. Amen

Encountering Christ:

In today’s Gospel, Jesus has encounter with the mother of the sons of Zebedee. It is a teaching moment on what it means to be a disciple. What does it mean to be conformed to the person of Jesus Christ? Now the mother of Zebedee’s sons is focused on getting a position of importance for her sons. She’s intent on securing a place of honor and power at Jesus’ right and left hand. And in response, Jesus turned her request into a lesson on the meaning of Christian discipleship. Ambition is a powerful force in people’s lives. And in this Gospel passage we see how even a mothers simple ambition, can be covered with what appears to be good intention. Divisive ambition leads to other vices that lead to sin. In fact, in the gospels it is ambitious people who seek to trap Jesus. And eventually succeed in putting Jesus to death. Ambition made them see Jesus as a threat. Ambition became a chain that traps them in sin. It made them see others not as persons created and loved by God, but as threats to their ambitions, that needed to be destroyed. Now Jesus invites his disciples and us to see life through a different lens. He invites them to live in the liberating power of sacrificial love, instead of striving for selfish ambition. Jesus speaks of the path of self- giving love as the path to genuine happiness and peace. Lent is the perfect time to renew our desire to live in the power of that divine love revealed perfectly in the suffering and death of Jesus on the cross. Lent invites us to live by the words of Jesus who says; “Whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant, for the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. It is a self-giving love. That is the most powerful force on earth. (Jem)

Things taken out of context or twisted to suit another’s agenda can be destructive to people on both sides of the equation. Even in this gospel, as the disciples (and their mother) argue over who will have the best position, it is words spoken too quickly and without deeper thought that get them into trouble. They do not understand the significance of what they are saying and what they are asking. They will find out all too soon when they, too, have to suffer for being followers of Jesus.  

Even in this time and space, words matter, especially when we wield them against another in an attempt to better ourselves or our position, whether in the church, the public arena, or around our own dinner table.

Conversing with Christ: Bestow upon your servants, Lord, abundance of grace and protection; grant health of mind and body; grant fullness of fraternal charity, and make them always devoted to you. Through Christ our Lord. Amen

Resolution: When we reach out to our neighbors, we are following in Jesus’ footsteps. And there is no better way to see things from someone else’s perspective, then by walking in their shoes. This is not hard to do. By visiting the sick, comforting the sorrowful, doing small favors for others before they ask, being kind and welcoming to people who aren’t popular or who are newly arrived… The possibilities are literally limitless. This week, the choice is yours.

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