Today’s Gospel: Matthew 20:17-28
There is no shortcut to the kingdom of heaven. Jesus has just warned the twelve of his coming passion, and in an exquisite moment of bad timing, Salome, mother of James and John, requests that her son be granted honors when Jesus becomes king. On the very road to His passion, they still don’t get it.
Like us, they think things will continue as they always have. For James and John, that meant an earthly king with power to rule and grant favor. For us, it means that our conversions too often come without an expectation of the cross. We must drink the cup along with James and John, and in it we shall drink our trials and our hardships. Yet that cup is not filled with gall but with a share in the blood shed by the Lord, so our suffering doesn’t have to be meaningless. United to the cross in baptism, we participate in the saving work of Christ.
Everything is made new in Christ, and the old forms and meanings don’t hold. The apostles expect greatness in this world, not imagining that our glory only comes in the next. The apostles expect to sit at the side of the king while servants give them the choicest morsels on golden plates. Jesus had something else in mind for them, and us. They were to serve as he did, even unto death. And He Himself would provide the choicest of all morsels, not a golden plate, but from His very hands, and made of His very body.
Do we expect our faith to lift us up above all people and even all trials, or do we realize that we are closest to Christ in our brokenness and humility?
Lord, help us to serve in our lives, and with our suffering, to help build up the Kingdom.
Copyright 2016 Thomas L. McDonald
Thomas L. McDonald is a writer, catechist, and historian. He can be found at Wonderful Things.