March 4 – A Mother’s Request
And as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside, and on the way he said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man will be delivered to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death, and deliver him 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 Zeb′edee came up to him, with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something. And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Command that these two sons of mine may 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 to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.” He said to them, “You will drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.” And when the ten heard it, they were indignant at 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 men exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave; even as the Son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Jesus had been telling his disciples the pain and suffering He will have to endure, yet they did not fully understand how painful or horrible it would be until it actually occurred. This was the third time written in Matthew’s Gospel that He told them He was going to suffer, die and be raised on the third day. Each time, He joins His death with the resurrection because He is focusing on the joy that will come from His suffering, not just the sacrifice. This too should be our focus this Lent. We must join our suffering and fasting with the joy that comes from the fruits of our sacrifice.
The mother of James and John then asks Jesus to place her son’s at His right and left hand. This passage is also joined with Mark 10:25-44, where it is James and John who ask Jesus, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” Jesus responds similarly in both Gospels, but Mark adds, “Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” Jesus is telling them that they too would have to accept the cup of God’s wrath because of sin and be baptized through death on the cross in order to be placed next to the King of kings. James and John say they are able to accept it, but Jesus tells them it is up to the Father as to their position in the Kingdom, and that they will join Him in suffering for the Church. We all want and desire a high place in the Kingdom of God, but we cannot obtain it by being the best or first in this world, ruling over others as the Gentiles or the Pharisees ruled over them. Jesus calls us to be servants in this world, to give up power and wealth so we can minister to those who need to hear the Gospel most. We are not to be served, but to become a servant of God. If we are successful and wealthy, we need to use those gifts to serve others. If we only have a little to donate, find other ways to give and serve in the Church through time or talents, and if we because of infirmity cannot do even that, then we can contribute our prayers and suffering. It is not easy to humble ourselves and serve others before ourselves. We need to ask God to guide us to find ways to take up our cup of suffering and join it to Christ’s suffering on the Cross.
Lent in Action:
Humble yourself and be of service to others today.
My Lord and Savior, help me to have a servant’s heart like you. I would like to offer up my fasting and ______ (what you gave up for Lent) in union with your suffering on the cross for my sins and those sins of the whole world. I look forward to rejoicing with you on the Third Day in your resurrection and your defeat over evil and sin. I ask you to show me where you would like me to serve you today and all the days of my life. In your Holy Name. Amen.