26May May 26, 2021. Wednesday of Eight Week in Ordinary Time

May 26 2021
Wednesday of Week 8 in Ordinary Time

Memorial: St Philip Neri, priest

1st Reading: Sirach 36:1, 4-5, 10-17

Faithful to His promises, God will reveal his salvation to the ends of the earth

The nations have acknowledged that there is no God but you.
Have mercy on us, Master, Lord of all, and look on us,
cast the fear of yourself over every nation.
Let them acknowledge you,
just as we have acknowledged that there is no God but you, Lord.
Send new portents, do fresh wonders,
win glory for your hand and your right arm.

Gather together all the tribes of Jacob,
restore them their inheritance as in the beginning.
Have mercy, Lord, on the people who have invoked your name,
on Israel whom you have treated as a first-born.
Show compassion on your holy city,
on Jerusalem the place of your rest.
Fill Zion with songs of your praise,
and your sanctuary with your glory.

Bear witness to those you created in the beginning,
and fulfil the prophesies spoken in your name.
Give those who wait for you their reward,
and let your prophets be proved worthy of belief.
Grant, Lord, the prayer of your servants,
according to Aaron’s blessing on your people,
so that all the earth’s inhabitants may acknowledge
that you are the Lord, the everlasting God.

Responsorial: Psalm 78:8-9, 11, 13

R./: Show us, O Lord, the light of your kindness

Do not hold the guilt of our fathers against us.
Let your compassion hasten to meet us
for we are in the depths of distress. (R./)

O God our saviour, come to our help,
come for the sake of the glory of your name.
O Lord our God, forgive us our sins;
rescue us for the sake of your name. (R./)

Let the groans of the prisoners come before you;
let your strong arm reprieve those condemned to die.
But we, your people, the flock of your pasture,
will give you thanks for ever and ever.
We will tell your praise from age to age. (R./)

Gospel: Mark 10:32-45

There will be no rank or titles in God’s kingdom

They were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them; they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. He took the twelve aside again and began to tell them what was to happen to him, saying, “See, 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; then they will hand him over to the Gentiles; they will mock him, and spit upon him, and flog him, and kill him; and after three days he will rise again.” James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And he said to them, “What is it you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They replied, “We are able. Then Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”

When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. So Jesus called them and said to them, “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

Respect the dignity of others

Sirach insists on the respect we must show towards the gifts of others. Absorbed in what God can do for his chosen people, he prays that foreign nations too will fear God. He lived and conducted his school in Jerusalem during a time of peace, just before the great troubles that pulse through Daniel and the books of Maccabees burst upon Israel. Yet not content with the serenity of peaceful times, he begs God not to let his people be dulled into complacency and compromise. Unlike other sapiential writers (like Proverbs, Job and Ecclesiastes) Sirach delights in the temple liturgy. He shows respect for the talents and gifts of others and encourages them.

The gospel describes the disciples dismay, on the road to Jerusalem, as they hear Jesus speak about his coming Passion. He foretells that “the Son of Man will be handed over; and they will mock him and spit at him, flog him, and finally kill him. But three days later he will rise.” God’s promises are so amazing that before the event there is no way of understanding them. Even though Jesus’ enemies will do away with him, God will turn their political contriving into a loving sacrifice, leading to an outpouring of life. “This is my body to be given for you… my blood which will be shed for you.”

In contrast with this exalted theology of hope and life, of self-giving martyrdom and total love for others, the ambition of Zebedee’s sons, James and John, seems petty and even detestable. How can they jostle for privileged places in the kingdom, seeking to outrank the other disciples, when Jesus has announced the giving of his life for everyone? Jesus’ answer was very simple, “Whoever aspires to greatness must serve the rest.” This is the mind of Jesus, the mind that must also be in us (Phil 2:5).

Different wavelengths

There are several clashes between Jesus and his disciples in Mark’s gospel, as they make their way to Jerusalem, where Jesus will be crucified. They are clearly on different wavelengths, which finds expression in the very different questions they ask of each other. James and John ask Jesus for glory, honour, status. What he asks of them focuses on the experience of rejection and suffering that he himself must face, “Can you drink the cup that I must drink, or be baptized with the baptism with which I must be baptized?” He was referring to the cup of suffering and the baptism of fire. The question of James and John showed their interest in self-promotion. The question of Jesus showed his interest in self-giving. At the heart of being his disciple is self-giving love, becoming the servant of others, and this will often mean taking the way of the cross, as Jesus knew from his own experience. James and John, and all of us, are being called to follow the one who did not come to be served but to serve, whose purpose in life was not to promote himself but to empty himself for others. It is only in following this way that we will receive that share in Jesus’ glory that was the focus of James and John’s request.