Step #1: Lectio / Read
The disciples were on the way, going up to Jerusalem,
and Jesus went ahead of them.
They were amazed, and those who followed were afraid.
Taking the Twelve aside again, he began to tell them
what was going to happen to him.
“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 who will mock him,
spit upon him, scourge him, and put him to death,
but after three days he will rise.”
Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee,
came to Jesus and said to him,
“Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.”
He replied, “What do you wish me to do for you?”
They answered him,
“Grant that in your glory
we may sit one at your right and the other at your left.”
Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking.
Can you drink the chalice that I drink
or be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?”
They said to him, “We can.”
Jesus said to them, “The chalice 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 or at my left is not mine to give
but is for those for whom it has been prepared.”
When the ten heard this, they became indignant at James and John.
Jesus summoned them and said to them,
“You know that those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles
lord it over them,
and their great ones make their authority over them felt.
But it shall not be so among you.
Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant;
whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all.
For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve
and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Step #2: Meditatio / Meditate
James and John are brothers. Jesus nicknamed them the "Sons of Thunder" (see Mark 3:17). So right away we know that when these two are around, it's never boring. Jesus tells the disciples that He's going to suffer and die. The Sons of Thunder assume He's speaking in metaphors again because right after that they ask Jesus if they could have a special place of honor in His kingdom. Then Jesus face palmed. They clearly didn't get it, so He tries to clear things up for them and explain that a place of glory in His kingdom will come at a great cost and much suffering.
At this point none of the disciples are listening to Jesus any more. Instead, they're all really upset with James and John because those obnoxious Sons of Thunder are sucking up to Jesus, trying to become His favorites. Jesus face palms again.
When will they learn?
The disciples struggled with something that we struggle a lot with now: community. We want to find a community that fulfills our needs and desires. A place where we don't have to worry about drama. A group of people with whom we always feel at home and never feel out of place.
The problem is, that kind of place doesn't exist.
Authentic community is messy. It can still be many of the things mentioned above. But if you're looking for a perfect utopia to make you feel warm and fuzzy all the time, then you're seeking a fantasy.
Our culture teaches us that we are consumers. We believe the fallacy that being in community is about what we get out of it. This is why we often leave a community the moment we encounter drama, conflict or awkwardness. While we do receive many graces from community, in today's reading, Jesus describes the crucial attitude we must have with one another.
We must not enter community solely for our own sake and to advance only our own cause. Jesus tells us that we are actually supposed to come in with humility and with the attitude that we are there to be community for others. That means when your faith community gets messy and your utopia is spoiled, you don't just leave because "I'm not getting anything out of this any more." Instead, you stay and bring Christ into the mess. Just like Jesus came into the mess of humanity for our salvation.
When you disagree with someone in your community, you stay and bring understanding. When you encounter drama, you stay and bring peace. When someone in your community hurts you, you stay and bring mercy. When people are discouraged and stressed out, you stay and bring joy. When others give up on community, you stay and bring faithfulness. No matter what happens, you stay and bring love.
What do you bring to your community?
Step #3: Oratio / Pray
"Whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all."
Think about the faith community you're a part of, and spend some time thanking God for all the graces and blessings you've received from that home-away-from-home.
Talk to the Lord about the struggles you have in your community. The things that bother you and tempt you to leave.
Ask Jesus for His mercy for the times you've contributed to the problems in your community or failed to bring Him into the midst of the trouble.
Ask the Holy Spirit what He wants you to bring into that mess. What specific and tangible ways can you start doing that right away?
Pray for the gifts you feel you need most in order to persevere in love with your faith community.
Step #4: Contemplatio / Contemplate
"For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve."
"Lord, help me to stay."
"Jesus, help me to love."
"Holy Spirit, help me to embrace the mess."
For the Rest of Your Day...
How can you put aside your own agenda, just for a little while? What can you do to be community to someone else today?
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Today's prayer was prepared by Dan Wolff.