March 4, 2015

The Gospel Today

Wednesday of the Second Week of Lent

Matthew 20:17-28

As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem,
he took the Twelve disciples aside by themselves,
and said to them on the way,
“Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem,
and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests
and the scribes,
and they will condemn him to death,
and hand him over to the Gentiles
to be mocked and scourged and crucified,
and he will be raised on the third day.”

Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee approached Jesus with her sons
and did him homage, wishing to ask him for something.
He said to her, “What do you wish?”
She answered him,
“Command that these two sons of mine sit,
one at your right and the other at your left, in your kingdom.”
Jesus said in reply,
“You do not know what you are asking.
Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?”
They said to him, “We can.”
He replied,
“My chalice you will indeed drink,
but to sit at my right and at my left,
this is not mine to give
but is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”
When the ten heard this,
they became indignant at the two brothers.
But Jesus summoned them and said,
“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them,
and the great ones make their authority over them felt.
But it shall not be so among you.
Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant;
whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.
Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve
and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Reflection (Sem. Herwyn T. Bulaun):

A Chinese saying goes like this, “if you want to know the true color of a tea, put it in a hot water.” Applying it to person, we will know the true color or personality of A person in tough and trying times. In today’s Gospel the true color of the apostles surfaced. They still thought that the kingship of Jesus Christ is similar to the expected king that will liberate the Israelites from slavery from the Roman occupation. This long expected king, similar to that of King David, will also restore their economic and political power when they became the most powerful nation in the world.

The gesture of the apostles shows that they want to be in the right position and influence when Jesus will seat on His throne. They know very well in a short period of time that Jesus will take His proper place in His Kingdom and they thought that it will be payback time, when it happens. Therefore, they would have the key positions thus we hear the request of the mother of James and John that the two sons would be seated in the right and left of the throne of Christ.

To be known as the right hand of the boss or of any person in authority gives the person significant influence to others, the person is like a “little boss”.  Before entering the seminary, my boss would always introduce me to his associates as his “right hand.” This means that he trusts me regarding almost everything about the business and sometimes even personal or private business. Whenever he does this, it up-lifts me because he recognizes my value to the company. However, the position has enormous responsibilities attached to it. I needed to equip myself from the latest development as well as the proposed laws that will affect the company. Furthermore, I needed also to establish wide contacts with different people that can assist us in our business requirements. Moreover, it is also helpful in providing certain benefits just like prioritization in the processing of certain transactions and the special regards and respect I received from people.

Contrary to the expectations of the apostles, Jesus’ authority is not a position that is of the world. It is a position of service. A vocation that gives ones’ life for others. Its main goal is to make the other person better in the different aspects of his life it may be spiritual, emotional, and physical. As seen in Jesus ministry, He healed not only the physical infirmities but also forgave sin which resulted in reunion of the person to the community. The authority of Jesus Christ is also rooted in love and compassion to the people.

The test of leadership of a person is seen whenever he serves specially the poor, the oppressed, and the marginalized. The motivation of the person with authority will be tested when things get difficult and the work requires so much sacrifice for the sake of the people whom he ought to serve. However, the one who will eventually succeed is the person who loves the people whom he serves. A service that prioritizes others over personal benefits. A person whom I believe strives to imitate the leadership of Christ, serves up to the point of death.

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