Scripture: Lectionary 233. Jeremiah 18:18-20. Psalm 31:5-6,14,15-16.
Matthew 20:17-28

Today's Readings

Jerimiah is often presented as a Christ figure because of the opposition,
sufferings, and rejection he experienced from the religious leaders of his
time who were connected with the King and the Temple. He realizes that his
life is now seriously threatened by those who are more interested in the
political dimension of the kingdom rather than in the spiritual message
that comes from a true prophet of the Lord. He cries out from the depth of
his heart to God. In this passage we can easily see why he is identified
as a Christ-figure.

Jesus, too, realizes that his last trip to Jerusalem will bring him much
suffering and even death. He lets his disciples know what will soon happen
to him in another foretelling of his way toward the Cross. This is meant
to help them and us as we join this Lent in following Christ's way of the
Cross. The disciples do not really grasp what he is telling them and they
reveal that they are still far from his concept of the kingdom of God.
They vie with one another for being at the top and for being closer to
Jesus as a leader who would bring a new period to Israel.

In Mark this competitive spirit is seen in the direct request of John and
James of Zebedee to be at his right and his left in the coming of the
kingdom. Jesus is for them a royal messiah not the suffering Servant of
Isaiah. In our account from Matthew who seems to have a little more
respect for the disciples, the mother of James and John asks Jesus that her
sons be given a special place next to Jesus in the kingdom of God. She too
has not comprehended who Jesus really is and what following him is all
about. Jesus explains that he is the servant of God who has come to give
his life not only in service for others but as an offering of love to the
Father. He does not think like the twelve nor like the two brothers who
anger the other ten disciples because of their desire to climb the ladder
of power in Jesus' kingdom. They are actually preventing one another from
truly following Jesus in doing the will of the Father.

We need support from one another in the call to be servant leaders. We are
to give of ourselves generously and be humble about it when we do help
others effectively. We have many examples of persons who know the heart
and mind of Jesus who can support us, not only the canonized saints, but
the servant leaders among us and in our extended family of relationships.
It is only through the Cross and the Resurrection of Jesus that we come to
fully understand the meaning of being a servant of God, a servant leader,
who follows Jesus is the servant of the servants of God.

Do I see myself as a servant leader? Am I willing to follow Jesus in
suffering, illness, and rejection? Am I a steward of God's creation? Do I
look down on others thinking myself better than they--even holier? Do I
seek to be served rather than serve? Am I willing to serve God with a
generous heart? Amen.