March 15, 2017

March 15

March 15, 2017:  Wednesday, 2nd week, Lent

  • 'Hands' pin: Into your hands I commend my spirit; in your hands is my destiny (psalm); command that my sons sit at your right and left hand...; the Son will be handed over... (gospel)
  • 'Crucifix': be crucified (gospel)
  • 'Cups' tie: "Can you drink from my cup?” (gospel)
  • 'Ruler' tie bar: "The rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them" (gospel)
  • Purple suspenders and shirt: Lenten season
Our vocation is to love and charity.  Those who love have the joy of hope because one day they'll be united with the Lord, source of all love.  Don't do works of charity for visibility and approval; self-interest can make love hypocritical.  Love is a grace, a gift God happily gives if we ask, the fruit of our saving encounter with God’s love.
Paul reminds us the Lord’s grace forgives our sins, heals our hearts, and enables us to become channels of God's love.  We can become instruments of God’s love when we allow ourselves to be healed and renewed by the Resurrected Christ, but it's up to us too.  The Risen Lord heals us if we ask him; he lets us experience and celebrate the Father's compassion and love.  All we can do for others is in response to what God has done and does for us.  Ask our Lord daily to renew the gift of his love and to enable you to be a witness of that love to others, especially those in greatest need.  
Can you drink from the chalice?
  • Jer 18:18-20  “Let's plot against Jeremiah, noting his words to destroy him by his own tongue.”  Heed me, Lord, and listen to my adversaries.  Must good be repaid with evil?  Remember I spoke to you on their behalf to deflect your wrath.
  • Ps 31:5-6, 14-16  "Save me, O Lord, in your kindness."  You'll free me from their snare.  Into your hands I commend my spirit.  They're plotting to take my life, but I trust in you.
  • Mt 20:17-28  Jesus to the Twelve, “The Son of Man will be condemned to death, mocked, scourged, crucified, and raised.”  Mother of Zebedee's sons:  “Command that my sons will sit, one at your right and the other at your left, in your kingdom.”  Jesus / James and John:  “Can you drink the chalice I'm going to drink?” / “We can.” / “You will, but sitting at my side is for those my Father prepared for it.”  Jesus, when the others got indignant:  “Don't be like rulers who make their authority felt.  Whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant.  The Son of Man came to serve and to give his life as ransom for many.”

    • Creighton:  "Embracing the way of Jesus":   Today’s readings point to what lies ahead:  Jesus' passion and death.  Jesus announces he'll die a violent death, then be raised; the disciples' lack of understanding continues through Jesus' crucifixion.  The conflict between Jesus’ insistence on the necessity of his death and his followers' resistance to grasp its significance opens us to the contradiction that dying is the path to life.  It's a challenge to spend time praying, eat less, or make time for people who need us.  We're called to trust that Jesus’ way is really the path to life.  May we allow Jesus to accompany us....

    • One Bread, One Body:  "The greatest treason?"  Those who persecuted Jeremiah were "religious":   concerned about teachings from the priests, counsel from the wise, and messages from the prophets.  Motivated by their mother, James and John wanted to work for the Church as Jesus' right- and left-hand men.  "The greatest treason is to do the right thing for the wrong reason" (Eliot, Murder in the Cathedral).  We may do lots of right things, we're tempted to do them with mixed motives.  We love God, the Church, the poor, and the sick, but our selfishness still influences us.  We control sinful desires but stop short of crucifying our "flesh with its passions."  We aspire to humility but are proud of the aspiration.  As we approach Sunday's First Scrutiny, may God scrutinize and purify our hearts.
      James, John, their mom, and Jesus
    • Passionist:  The irony in today's gospel is striking:  Opposition to Jesus from the scribes, Pharisees, and chief priests has been mounting.  Jesus and the disciples are on the way to Jerusalem; he tells them he'll be arrested, condemned, and crucified, and will rise.  The “Hosanna!  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” acclamations would change to “Crucify him!”  Now the mother of James and John asks Jesus to give her sons seats of honor in his kingdom.  “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and give his life....”
    •  "Can you drink Christ's cup?"  Jeremiah's prophecy was at odds with what the people wanted; he met opposition and threats and pleaded with God.  Jesus also met opposition; he prophesied he'd be rejected and crucified.  He called himself "Son of Man," a Messianic title.  Daniel was given a prophetic vision of a "Son of Man" with power to rule on God's behalf.  Isaiah foretold the "Suffering Servant," "God's Chosen One," would atone for sins through his suffering and death, then be raised and establish justice.  Jesus paid for our redemption with his life, then rose; to share in his victory, we need to follow him, renouncing our will for his way of sacrificial love.
    After Jesus prophesied his death, James and John's mother brought her sons to him and asked him to place them above their fellow disciples.  Jesus tells them they don't understand what they're asking.  When the others hear, they become indignant; Jesus called them all together and told them to serve others.  Authority without love oriented to others' good can become self-serving.  To be great, serve; to be first, become a slave.  Servants had to serve their masters; they had no choice.  But Jesus' model of servanthood is based on choice and freedom:  choice to put others first, freedom to serve them with compassion.  "For freedom Christ set us free....  Be servants of one another."  Jesus, our example, "came not to be served but to serve."  The motivation for servanthood is love, not pride or fear.  Jesus' death to self frees us to offer our lives for him and others.
    The Lord Jesus asks us too,  "Can you drink the cup"  of sacrificial service and death to self?  What cup does the Lord have in mind for me:  physical suffering, a routine Christian life of daily sacrifices, disappointments, struggles, and temptations,...?  We share in God’s reign by laying down our lives in humble service of one another....

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