Memory of the Saints and the Prophets

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Reading of the Word of God

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

You are a chosen race,
a royal priesthood, a holy nation,
a people acquired by God
to proclaim his marvellous works.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

Matthew 20,17-28

Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, and on the road he took the Twelve aside by themselves and said to them, 'Look, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of man is about to be handed over to the chief priests and scribes. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the gentiles to be mocked and scourged and crucified; and on the third day he will be raised up again.' Then the mother of Zebedee's sons came with her sons to make a request of him, and bowed low; and he said to her, 'What is it you want?' She said to him, 'Promise that these two sons of mine may sit one at your right hand and the other at your left in your kingdom.' Jesus answered, 'You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink?' They replied, 'We can.' He said to them, 'Very well; you shall drink my cup, but as for seats at my right hand and my left, these are not mine to grant; they belong to those to whom they have been allotted by my Father.' When the other ten heard this they were indignant with the two brothers. But Jesus called them to him and said, 'You know that among the gentiles the rulers lord it over them, and great men make their authority felt. Among you this is not to happen. No; anyone who wants to become great among you must be your servant, and anyone who wants to be first among you must be your slave, just as the Son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.'

 

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

You will be holy,
because I am holy, thus says the Lord.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

Jesus is drawing near to Jerusalem, and for the third time, now more at length than before, he confides to his disciples what is waiting for him in the holy city: he will be condemned to death, handed over to pagan tribunals, crucified and on the third day he will be risen from the dead. As often happens to us, the disciples do not listen, or they think that he is exaggerating as usual, or they listen selectively: in this case they ignore the resurrection. The evangelist tells us that in front of this announcement, certainly also full of the tragedy of death, the disciples are thinking totally of something else. Jesus is thinking with great concern about what will happen to him in Jerusalem, and the disciples are thinking about the place they will occupy or claim for themselves. Jesus is going towards the cross, and they are thinking about the "thrones of glory." In truth the scene is interrupted by the mother of the sons of Zebedee who speaks to Jesus of her two sons. We could say that it is a very normal request for recommendation, which we all know well. It reveals the concern for oneself or one's relatives, for our future and settling down that crosses generations. Jesus with great patience continues teaching his disciples so that they learn the path they should follow and therefore the things they should ask for. As a good teacher, he accepts the disciples' ambition, but he moves it on the opposite side, and turns their request around: "Whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant." It is a path that runs contrary to the paths of the world and contrary to the path we instinctively follow. With his own life, Jesus shows us a lifestyle different from the world and from the narcissism that is poisoning society: "The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many." This is what he asks of himself and of all those who want to follow him. It is the path towards Easter but it passes through the cross.