July 25, 2019
by Larry Gillick, S.J.
Creighton University's Deglman Center for Ignatian Spirituality
click here for photo and information about the writer

Feast of Saint James, Apostle
Lectionary: 605

2 Corinthians 4:7-15
Psalms 126:1bc-2ab, 2cd-3, 4-5, 6
Matthew 20:20-28

Praying Ordinary Time

Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

Praying As We Age

When Jesus first called James and his brother John to follow Him, they were seated in their father’s boat mending nets. In today’s Gosple their mother asks Jesus to have these same two brothers seated on thrones of power up there close to Jesus. Now why did their mother ask for this and why did the other ten disciples become indignant at the two brothers? Stop reading here and check out your responses, just for prayerful-fun. Okay, continue reading unless your own selfishness needs a little grace.

We have a greeting-statement when meeting someone, “So what’s new?” I wonder often what we don’t want to know, what’s old. Why do we crave the new, the different, the possible. When reading these Daily Reflections you might find yourself hoping for some new insight, idea, way of praying or figuring out God. We might call that progress or growth, achievement. Well the remainder of this Reflection is “what’s old” and it is what Jesus offers to James, John and their dear mother.

Often, at the ending of my morning’s prayer-time, I find myself asking God, “Why do You keep giving the old me back to me and telling me to live with it.”A new me would be so much better! In the First Reading of today’s Eucharistic liturgy, we hear about a “treasure” in our old “earthen vessles.” The “treasure” is the riches of our being in Christ and that within the poverty of our humanity. It is Paul saying again that there is no boasting of anything except the gifts of being in Him and in His doings. I want a new and improved me to be worthy? No, probably because I could trust my doings or at least live in that illusion.

Now here is something very old, but may seem new. Jesus invites James and John to take their old selves and enter into Jesus’ being Servant. The human James and John, and their mother, would be more attracted to their being in positions of possessions. Here is what is really important now. Jesus invites these two not to being servants, serving God, but following Jesus in serving God’s people. Jesus has come and continues His coming to be the Servant sent to care or, lead, find and unite God’s family, God’s creation. This is the “treasure” then, not to sit judging how others are serving or not, but accompanying Jesus and His sisters and brothers in caring, nourishing and healing. We serve within the context of earthiness which can grow old. What is new are the ways He invites us to live with the old and face the new opportunities to assist Jesus in the Creator’s constant re-creation.

The new eventually grows old. What does assist our living with the old, is allowing Jesus to tend to us, find us, en-hearten us and then what’s new is the spirit that moves us out of our “seats” or “thrones” and out into the adventure and mystery of the new day, today, tomorrow!

What’s new? What is new is every day we are not burden or confined by the image of our Christ-loved earthen vessil and the discovery of how Jesus can and does serve His brothers and sisters, through such as our new/old selves.The “Challace” which Jesus is drinking and which He offers to James and John, is the chalice He sips daily, by embracing all that is human in Him and in us. He invites them and us to keep sipping the sacred chalice  which encases the “treasure” not made of Gold, but inconsistent, fragile, but blessed flesh.  

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