07Mar 07 March. Wednesday of Week 2 of Lent

Jeremiah 18:18ff. Rescue me, Lord, from my enemies!

Matthew 20:17ff. Seeking prominence: “the greatest among you must be our servant.”

Believing in God’s Plan

Both readings today mention an intrigue to get ahead! Jeremiah’s own family had already turned against him and now the religious and secular authorities contrive a plot to do away with his troublesome challenge to their status. In Matthew, the mother of Zebedee’s sons, James and John seeks to extract a secret promise from Jesus that her sons will sit “one at your right hand and the other at your left, in your kingdom.” God’s plans are not promoted by such personal ambition and double-dealing!

Jeremiah states the initial, essential attitude for all true religion: concern for the welfare of others. “Heed me, O Lord! . . . Remember that I stood before you to speak in their behalf, to turn away your wrath from them.” We seek their goodness, their peace, their life. These gifts come from the Lord and must be sought in prayer. Jeremiah’s apostolic activity arose from remembering the Lord and His plans and hopes for others.

Profound concern for others is clearly enunciated by Jesus, as the mainspring of his life. The gospel passage begins and ends with an announcement of Jesus’ death. He “has come, not to be served, but to serve, to give his own life.” The natural ambitions of his apostolic circle must always be curbed, to fit in with Our Lord’s sense of dedicated service.

First Reading: Jeremiah 18:18-20

Instruction shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet. Come, let us bring charges against him, and let us not heed any of his words.”

Give heed to me, O Lord, and listen to what my adversaries say! Is evil a recompense for good? Yet they have dug a pit for my life. Remember how I stood before you to speak good for them, to turn away your wrath from them.

Gospel: Matthew 20:17-28

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

Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to him with her sons, and kneeling before him, she asked a favour of him. And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Declare that these two sons of mine will sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” But Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.” He said to them, “You will indeed drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left, this is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”

When the ten heard it, they were angry with the two brothers. But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be our servant, and whoever wishes 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 a ransom for many.”