Today’s Thoughts: The Gospel today is a perfect picture of the collision between two forces, the perfectly human and the perfectly Jesus. James and John ask for a favor and it is a good one. Jesus responds with a loaded question of His own. It is loaded, because He is asking whether they know really what is good for them. They are asking to be up in the owner’s box when the “kingdom” comes marching in.
The Roman kingdom or empire is always the prevailing setting for the listeners of Jesus. Roman domination is all they have ever known. Jesus talks of a new kingdom, but His listeners slowly are learning that their concepts of kingdom are changing. So, James and John come out of their historical context and their human self-centeredness. There is a need for a readiness to learn setting now.
The Greek word, baptizein (emphasis on the second syllable) means “immersion” or “sinking into.” The “cup” which will be offered to drink by Jesus will be offered to His closest followers and He asks if they can allow themselves to drink the cup and be immersed. The two affirm that they can. Jesus then affirms that they will enter the deepest experience of Jesus’ life, His death.
The Gospel reading for today ends with quite a self-defining statement. Jesus is living among in the world as a servant. He is inviting all to see His life and theirs as the heart of the new kingdom. The Romans enslave with power, Jesus as servant offers the power of self-sacrifice as participation in the Kingdom. Can they drink that, take it in and sink into this kind of living?
Jesus is meeting His human family where they are and serving them what is good for them. The empire of Rome is a large section of our human territory. Much of our suffering occurs when that personal empire collides with our weaker desires for God’s kingdom to come and replace our own. All sufferings cannot be explained so easily. We are invited to drink and sink into the powerful and gentle arms of Jesus our faith Servant, serving us toward what is ultimately good for us.
When did we say that following Jesus is easy? Have a blessed Sunday everyone!
Fr. Paul R. Fagan, C.P. "Preacher on the Run"
Just a few thoughts to help you on your journey through life...let me know from time to time what you think...