March 15, 2017: Wednesday of the Second Week of Lent
The mother of sons of Zebedee approached Jesus and said, "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...
[ T] he Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matt 20: 28)
Up till now, the Lectionary has been a textbook for our Lenten study of the baptismal commitment we will accept or renew at Easter. We’ve reviewed some of the tools for our transformation into a more vivid image of God in Christ. We’ve heard what that could look like. But today’s readings provide a sobering preview of what is required beyond praying, fasting, giving alms, and trying to live holy lives. The readings offer one picture only: Jesus Christ walking willingly into enemy fire to pick up and redeem all those who have been and will be felled by it. This Jesus is not a pretty picture: he is judged, condemned, mocked, scourged, and crucified before he is raised on the third day. In the gospel, Jesus quickly draws back and lets the curtain fall again over that horrifying vision of the book’s penultimate chapter. Instead, confronted by the ambitions of the Zebedee family, mother and sons, he uses the gentler imagery of a chalice to be drunk. We know what it is: we will come again soon to the story of the chalice Jesus will find too much but will accept anyway and drink down on our behalf (Mark 14: 35-36). But for now we are spared the details as Jesus recasts the story of suffering and death into the story of service. Ah, now that’s a comfortable theme for Lenten Christians, isn’t it? Until, of course, Jesus adds the zinger at the end: ultimately the service we’re called to is the same as his—to give up our lives for others, though that will more likely be by self-sacrificing service than by death.
Lent is living toward the cross in such a way that, when it opens like a door before us as it did for Jesus, though in different ways, we will walk through willingly, not for our sakes but for the sake of all those he gave his life to save.
Think about the hard moments you’ve already known in your efforts to be of real service to others. What made them hard? When did they deter you from your desire to serve and when did they not?
By Genevieve Glen, "Not by bread alone"