When Jesus was going to Jerusalem, he took the Twelve aside and said to them on the way, «See, we are going to Jerusalem. There the Son of Man will be given over to the chief priests and the teachers of the Law who will condemn him to death. They will hand him over to the foreigners who will mock him, scourge him and crucify him. But he will be raised to life on the third day».
Then the mother of James and John came to Jesus with her sons, and she knelt down to ask a favor. Jesus said to her, «What do you want?». And she answered, «Here you have my two sons. Grant that they may sit, one at your right and one at your left, when you are in your kingdom». Jesus said to the brothers, «You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I am about to drink?». They answered, «We can». Jesus replied, «You will indeed drink my cup, but to sit at my right or at my left is not for me to grant. That will be for those for whom the Father has prepared it».
The other ten heard all this and were angry with the two brothers. Then Jesus called them to him and said, «You know that the rulers of the nations act as tyrants, and the powerful oppress them. It shall not be so among you; whoever wants to be more important in your group shall make himself your servant. And if you want to be first, make yourself the servant of all. Be like the Son of Man who has come, not to be served but to serve and to give his life to redeem 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, in this Lenten time —inspired by the Holy Spirit— proposes a text where Jesus suggests to his disciples —and, accordingly, 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. But, now, Jesus is proposing to us just the opposite: «Whoever wants to be more important in your group shall make himself your servant» (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 achieves his prime of life through dedication and commitment to others». We may be under the impression we are giving away life, but, in fact, we are retrieving 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 has come, not to be served but to serve and to give his life to redeem 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 adequately.