This blog offers a meditation on the Common Lectionary daily readings along with a headline from world news:
Matthew 20: 17-28
Third Prediction of Jesus’ Death and Resurrection
17 As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve aside privately and said to them on the way, 18 “Look, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the experts in the law. They will condemn him to death, 19 and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged severely and crucified. Yet on the third day, he will be raised.”
A Request for James and John
20 Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to him with her sons, and kneeling down she asked him for a favor. 21 He said to her, “What do you want?” She replied, “Permit these two sons of mine to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” 22 Jesus answered, “You don’t know what you are asking! Are you able to drink the cup I am about to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.” 23 He told them, “You will drink my cup, but to sit at my right and at my left is not mine to give. Rather, it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”
24 Now when the other ten heard this, they were angry with the two brothers. 25 But Jesus called them and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those in high positions use their authority over them. 26 It must not be this way among you! Instead whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Jesus is reported as using the title, “Son of Man” throughout his mission as a way of referring to himself and his cause. In the book of Daniel chapter the prophet sees a vision of kingdoms symbolised by savage beasts, and then one symbolised by a “Son of Man”, which will be humane. The phrase “Son of Man” is explained by the Daniel author as “the holy ones of the most high,” that is, the true people of God, who will rule in God’s kingdom. Jesus applied this phrase to himself and his followers: he, and they, are to inaugurate God’s good rule in the world. So far so good, as far as disciples are concerned. Surely they might dream of special privilege in that kingdom!
Ah, yes, so easy and moving to write about this reversal of roles, so hard to act upon it! The desire to have power, even within intimate relationships, is hard to eradicate from the human heart. One may know that one’s worst evils and follies have been committed either to gain power or to flaunt it, yet still be susceptible to its temptation. At such a point one knows what Jesus meant by “becoming a child” or “being born from above” for certainly the change demanded is radical. All I can hope is that, over time, and without a more certain outcome than any other birth, this new self is being born in me.
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