The Gospel According to Matthew 20:17-28
While Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside by themselves, and said to them on the way, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death; then they will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified; and on the third day he will be raised.” Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to him with her sons, and kneeling before him, she asked a favor of him. And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Declare that these two sons of mine will sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” But Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.” He said to them, “You will indeed drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left, this is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.” When the ten heard it, they were angry with the two brothers. But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Today’s Gospel reading is sobering. Jesus and the disciples are going up to Jerusalem and Jesus wants to prepare them for what lies ahead for him as well as for them. He warns his disciples that he will be handed over to the scribes and chief priests. Not only that, but Jesus also tells them that he will be condemned to death, mocked, scourged and crucified! Can you imagine the disciples’ response to Jesus’ words? Were they frightened for Jesus and perhaps also frightened for themselves? Then Jesus tells them that he will be raised up on the 3rd day! What are the disciples to make of that statement? What would you think if Jesus told you this?
Mothers always want the best for their children as did the mother of James and John asking Jesus for the best places in the kingdom for her two sons. She interceded with Jesus on behalf of her sons. However, her request, her prayer was not one that Jesus could respond to. Jesus did not respond to every request that was made of him; not every prayer we make is heard. Instead of responding to the mother’s request, Jesus made a request of his own to her two sons, “Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink?” Jesus was asking James and John if they were ready to follow him, even though it would mean traveling the way of the cross.
That question that Jesus asked James and John is the one that he addresses to ALL of us. He asks how committed we are to his way of life, to the values he lived by and died for. Like the mother of James and John, we often ask the Lord for something in prayer. Today’s gospel reminds us that the Lord also asks us for something; he ask us for nothing less than ourselves; he asks us to give ourselves to him as he gave himself to us on the cross.
Action of the Day: Prayerfully consider how God is speaking to you this Lenten season. What is God asking from you, listen to how He is asking you, to be His hands and face to someone in your life.