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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Wednesday 2nd of Lent

1st Reading (Jer 18:18-20): The people of Judah and the citizens of Jerusalem said: «Come, let us contrive a plot against Jeremiah. It will not mean the loss of instruction from the priests, nor of counsel from the wise, nor of messages from the prophets. And so, let us destroy him by his own tongue; let us carefully note his every word». Heed me, o Lord, and listen to what my adversaries say. Must good be repaid with evil that they should dig a pit to take my life? Remember that I stood before you to speak in their behalf, to turn away your wrath from them.
Responsorial Psalm: 30
R/. Save me, o Lord, in your kindness.
You will free me from the snare they set for me, for you are my refuge. Into your hands I commend my spirit; you will redeem me, o Lord, o faithful God.

I hear the whispers of the crowd, that frighten me from every side, as they consult together against me, plotting to take my life.

But my trust is in you, o Lord; I say, «You are my God». In your hands is my destiny; rescue me from the clutches of my enemies and my persecutors.
Versicle before the Gospel (Jn 8:12): I am the light of the world, says the Lord; whoever follows me will have the light of life.
Gospel text (Mt 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 him 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 cup that I am going to drink?” They said to him, “We can.” He replied, “My cup 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.”

«Whoever wants to be more important in your group shall make himself your servant»

Fr. Francesc JORDANA i Soler (Mirasol, Barcelona, Spain)

Today, the Church —inspired by the Holy Spirit— proposes in this Lenten time a text where Jesus suggests to his disciples —and therefore to all of us— a change in mentality. Today, Jesus changes the human and earthly mentality of his disciples and opens up a new horizon of understanding concerning a new style of life for his followers.

We have a natural tendency towards a desire to dominate or subjugate things and people, to command and to order, to have things done as per our wishes, to have others accept our status, our position. Well, the way Jesus is proposing to us is just the opposite: “whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave” (Mt 20:26-27). “Servant”, “slave”: we cannot just take these words at their face value! We have heard them hundreds of times, sure, but now we must be able to assimilate the reality of what they actually mean, and confront it with our attitude and behavior.

The II Vatican Council asserts that «man cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself». We may be under the impression we are giving our life, but, in fact, we are finding it. He who does not live to serve does not serve to live. And, in this attitude Christ should be our perfect model —Jesus is fully man—, inasmuch as “the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mt 20:28).

To become a servant, a slave, as Jesus calls us upon, is something almost impossible for us. It falls short of our weak will: so we are to implore, to hope for and to profoundly wish these gifts are granted to us. Lent and its Lenten practices —fasting, charity and prayer— remind us that to receive these gifts we have to prepare ourselves properly.