The Gospel according to Matthew (20:20-28)
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.”
Reflection: We know that we can carry our own cross but the real question is if we can carry the cross for others too? This makes me think about Jesus when He was carrying His cross and then the soldiers grabbed Simeon of Cyrene to help carry this cross. I have always wondered if Simeon did this reluctantly or if her did without hesitation. Did he do this thinking that he will be killed too? After he did this, did his friends and neighbors persecute him because he was considered a follower of Jesus? Allow me to put this in perspective with a short scenario. Let’s suppose that you were given the chance to save a friend or family member but you had to choose death to do it. And of course, you were assured that when you died you had a seat in heaven. But the other part of the deal was that you had to carry your own coffin all by yourself for quite a distance while people watched you and chastised you. And to make matters worse you were carrying it up a hill.
This is what the mother of the sons is ultimately asking. She is placing her sons in the hands of Jesus, but Jesus is saying that it’s not going to be easy. In fact, there will be some days when it is quite hard. So, He asks these Apostles, “Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?” In other words, can you embrace my Cross? Can you embrace my suffering? Can you walk with me through my ultimate sacrifice and participate in that sacrifice by also offering your lives? The Apostles affirm that they can and, indeed, they eventually do follow Jesus in His sacrifice by giving themselves completely to others.
This Gospel reading has always made me think of the following … If I was asked to assist Jesus by carrying His cross, I wouldn’t just pick up one end of the cross. I would pick up the whole cross on one shoulder and with my other arm, I would carry Jesus. This is something that I would accept to do each and every day of my life.
So, I ask you my brothers and sisters, can you drink that chalice? Can you willingly accept the Cross in your life? Can you endure hardship, sacrifice and, perhaps, even persecution for being a follower of Jesus? Can you walk with Him through His suffering? If the answer is “Yes,” then you will share in His glory. Perhaps that glory will not be to sit at His right and left, but it will be a glory beyond your wildest imagination. It’s worth it and it’s an invitation that you will never regret accepting.
Action of the Day: Take some time today and meditate if you could truly drink from the cup of Jesus, knowing the hardships that you will encounter.