|The Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary
Psalms 33:4-5, 18-20, 22
Mark 10:35-45 or 10:42-45
Do we know what we are really asking for, because we might just get it. James and John, ask Jesus for a favor in today’s Gospel. They would like to be on either side of Him when He comes into His glory.
In reply Jesus asks them if they can drink the cup and be baptized, as He will do. They say that they can do these. They do not know what they are agreeing to, but they think they know what they want. Jesus allows that they will indeed drink the cup He will drink and be baptized, as He will be. But as for where these two will be in the Kingdom, Jesus is not in charge of guest-passes.
The First Reading for today is part of a longer prophecy concerning the Servant of God who is to suffer so as to justify many and “their guilt he shall bear.” This reading we hear at the Good Friday Liturgy, but here it is a gentle reminder of what kind of cup and baptism are we invited to drink and share.
Jesus takes this most-human interaction with the Twelve to reveal just what His “glory” really is. Jesus is in His glory when he is a servant and for this He has come. It is this being a servant into which He was baptized and it is the cup of ultimately surrendering His life that He will drink so deeply.
We are baptized into Christ’s being Servant and we drink the cup of His surrender. We are invited to live these two Sacraments within the crumbiness of the kitchen table, the wateriness of tears. For all that Jesus did, there is little mention of people thanking Him even for the big things. When we get paid by check or compliments, we experience some kind of sense of justice. We also have to drink the cups of ingratitude and injustice, where we are not appreciated or thanked, but perhaps paid with neglect or insults and the checks we receive are blocks to our good efforts.
The “glory” of Jesus is this being a Servant of us. How absolutely contrary this all seems. We are the served by the First Who became the Last. At the very moment of His being most our Servant for Redemption, no one was there cheering for His efforts, but rather jeering at His demise. We are the served, the waited upon and waited for. In time the Twelve allowed His true glory to be their own. In time, we the served learn the sacredness of the crumbful table and the true meaning of unappreciated fidelity.
In this area of being first and appreciated and celebrated, we are conditioned and quite sophisticated little children who like washing dishes at the neighbors rather than at home. At home they are slaves, at the neighbors they are praised, thanked and invited to return at any time. Christ’s glory is the cup of being faithful to our washing dishes at home, whatever the dishes and whatever the home. We do like to make the comfortable distinction between being a servant and a slave. We want to be a sign of welcome, but not a doormat. Jesus embraces His prophesied role by serving us in simple unsafistication. His invitation to us is to an attitude, which frees us from comfortable distinctions and opens us to a fuller living of our having been baptized into His embrace of our crumb-loved table. We will drink of His Cup this day and little by little be almost transubstantiated into His being a servant and occasionally, we may be appreciated.
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