ubj: MATTHEW 20:17-28: WEDNESDAY'S GOSPEL FOR REFLECTION
Date: 3/2/99 3:18:31 AM Pacific Standard Time
From: email@example.com (Manuel Tuazon)
Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam (To the Greater Glory of God)
For: Wednesday, March 3, 1999
2nd Week of Lent
Optional Memorial: Blessed Katharine Drexel
From: Matthew 20:17-28
Third Prophecy of the Passion
 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."
The Mother of the Sons of Zebedee Makes Her Request
 Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee 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
18-19. Once again our Lord prophesies to His Apostles about His death
and resurrection. The prospect of judging the world (cf. Matthew
19:28) might have misled them into thinking in terms of an earthly
messianic kingdom, an easy way ahead, leaving no room for the ignominy
of the cross.
Christ prepares their minds so that when the testing time comes they
will remember that He prophesied His passion and not be totally
scandalized by it; He describes His passion in some detail.
Referring to Holy Week, Monsignor Escriva writes: "All the things
brought to our mind by the different expressions of piety which
characterize these days are of course directed to the Resurrection,
which is, as St. Paul says, the basis of our faith (cf. 1 Corinthians
15:14). But we should not tread this path too hastily, lest we lose
sight of a very simple fact which we might easily overlook. We will
not be able to share in our Lord's Resurrection unless we unite
ourselves with Him in His Passion and Death. If we are to accompany
Christ in His glory at the end of Holy Week, we must first enter into
His holocaust and be truly united to Him, as He lies dead on Calvary"
("Christ Is Passing By", 95).
20. The sons of Zebedee are James the Greater and John. Their mother,
Salome, thinking that the earthly reign of the Messiah is about to be
established, asks that her sons be given the two foremost positions in
it. Christ reproaches them for not grasping the true--spiritual--
nature of the Kingdom of Heaven and not realizing that government of
the Church He is going to found implies service and martyrdom. "If you
are working for Christ and imagine that a position of responsibility is
anything but a burden, what disillusionment awaits you!" ([Blessed] J.
Escriva, "The Way", 950).
22. "Drinking the cup" means suffering persecution and martyrdom for
following Christ. "We are able": the sons of Zebedee boldly reply that
they can drink the cup; their generous expression evokes what St. Paul
will write years later: "I can do all things in Him who strengthens
me." (Philippians 4:13).
23. "You will drink My cup": James the Greater will die a martyr's
death in Jerusalem around the year 44 (cf. Acts 12:2); and John, after
suffering imprisonment and the lash in Jerusalem (cf. Acts 4:3;
5:40-41), will spend a long period of exile on the island of Patmos
(cf. Revelation 1:9).
>From what our Lord says here we can take it that positions of authority
in the Church should not be the goal of ambition or the subject of
human intrigue, but the outcome of a divine calling. Intent on doing
the will of His Heavenly Father, Christ was not going to allocate
positions of authority on the basis of human considerations but,
rather, in line with God's plans.
26. Vatican II puts a marked emphasis on this "service" which the
Church offers to the world and which Christians should show as proof of
their Christian identity: "In proclaiming the noble destiny of man and
affirming an element of the divine in him, this sacred Synod offers to
cooperate unreservedly with mankind in fostering a sense of brotherhood
to correspond to this destiny of theirs. The Church is not motivated
by an earthly ambition but is interested in one thing only--to carry on
the work of Christ under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, for He came
into the world to bear witness to the truth, to save and not to judge,
to serve and not to be served" ("Gaudium Et Spes", 3 cf. "Lumen
Gentium", 32: "Ad Gentes", 12; "Unitatis Redintegratio", 7).
27-28. Jesus sets Himself as an example to be imitated by those who
hold authority in the Church. He who is God and Judge of all men (cf.
Philippians 2:5-11; John 5:22-27; Acts 10:42; Matthew 28:18) does not
impose Himself on us: He renders us loving service to the point of
giving His life for us (cf. John 15:13); that is His way of being the
first. St. Peter understood Him right; he later exhorted priests to
tend the flock of God entrusted to them, not domineering over them but
being exemplary in their behavior (cf. 1 Peter 5:1-3); and St. Paul
also was clear on this "service": though He was "free from all men", He
became the servant of all in order to win all (cf. 1 Corinthians 9:19
ff; 2 Corinthians 4:5).
Christ's "service" of mankind aims at salvation. The phrase "to give
His life as a ransom for many" is in line with the terminology of
liturgical sacrificial language. These words were used prophetically
in Chapter 53 of Isaiah.
Verse 28 also underlines the fact that Christ is a priest, who offers
Himself as priest and victim on the altar of the cross. The expression
"as a ransom for many" should not be interpreted as implying that God
does not will the salvation of all men. "Many", here, is used to
contrast with "one" rather than "all": there is only one Savior, and
salvation is offered to all.
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text
taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentary
made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of
Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock,
Co. Dublin, Ireland. Printed in Hungary.
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