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Whoever wishes to be great


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Gospel • Mt 20:17-28

AS Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the Twelve disciples aside by themselves…

Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee approached him with her sons and did him homage, wishing to ask him for something. He said to her, “What do you wish?” She answered him, “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. Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?” They said to him, “We can.” He replied, “My chalice you will indeed drink, but to sit at my association right and at my left, this is not mine to give but is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.” When the ten heard this, they became indignant at the two brothers. But Jesus summoned them and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and the great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave. Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

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The Gospel may be described as a drama in five scenes. Scene One: Jesus tells his disciples that he is going to Jerusalem where he will suffer, die, and be raised. Scene Two: The mother of Zebedee’s two sons approaches Jesus, asking for positions of honor for them. Scene Three: Jesus inquires if they know what they are seeking and if they understand the “price” they must pay. Scene Four: The other ten disciples become angry (they want such “positions of honor” for themselves). Scene Five: Jesus calls them all together and instructs them on the meaning of “true discipleship.”

Note the “earthly ambitions” of the mother, the two disciples, and the ten disciples (scenes two and four). Observe how Jesus is trying to teach the disciples what “true greatness” consists of (scenes one, three, and five). Indeed, “authentic discipleship” demands sacrifice, suffering, service, and self-surrender – all in imitation of the example of Jesus who comes not “to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

What is my vision of “true greatness” and “authentic discipleship”? How can I respond to Jesus’ challenges – especially during this Lenten season?

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SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord 2018,” ST. PAULS Philippines, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: books@stpauls.ph; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.