March 11: Wednesday of the Second Week of Lent

Christoph Weigel, A Mother's Request, Biblia ectypa: Bildnussen auss Heiliger SchrifftAlt und Neuen Testaments, 1695

Readings for Mass
First Reading: Jeremiah 18:18-20
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 31:5-6, 14, 15-16
Gospel: Matthew 20:17-28

“Just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many (NRSV, Mt 20:28).”

Let us pray.

Father, it is so often the case when we plan our future that there is really nothing new about it at all. We merely take our present situation which is always impoverished when compared to what could be and dream up a future that is just more of the same. Jesus preached the coming of your kingdom and, of course, we thought of it as just another earthly kingdom, maybe one that might function a bit better than others. What Jesus really preached was a kingdom unlike any other that the world has experienced. It is a kingdom, Father, in which your rule will overcome all evil and everything will be put right. Even death will be finally understood, not as undoing, but as passage to a fuller life.

The wife of Zebedee, the mother of James and John, came to Jesus, Matthew tells us, to seek places of honor for her two sons, that they might sit at the right and the left of Jesus when he would come into his kingdom. Jesus tried to explain that in his kingdom that there would be no places of honor as they are usually understood. Jesus said that all he had to offer was a cup of suffering. In the coming kingdom there would be no lording it over one another. In the kingdom to come the one who would be great would be the one who would place himself at the service of the others, even as a lackey might do. After all Jesus himself had come not to be served, as one might expect of a king, but to serve and to give his life for the many.

Father, we think we know what a priest is, what sacrifice is, what a kingdom is, what a king is, but Jesus shatters all of our preconceptions and opens up for us a radically new understanding of what it means to be human, a radically new understanding of the future. It is a future, not of self-fulfillment, as we might have thought, but a future of self-denial and service of others.

May we, Father, break out of the past, even as it has brought us to the present moment, always open to a future of constantly growing, unexpected newness of life in you and of committed service to one another.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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