A gloomy, foreboding mood hangs over the first reading. It speaks of Jeremiah’s difficult life as a prophet and his ultimate rejection by his people: a foreshadowing of Jesus’ life and the death He will face in Jerusalem. The psalm echoes the theme of the approaching catastrophe, though the psalmist retains a core of hope: “You will redeem me, O Lord, O faithful God.”
The Gospel readings throughout this week seem to be about people who, in one way or another, don’t “get” what Jesus is saying and what the Kingdom of Heaven is really all about. Many of the characters are unappealing: the Pharisees wrapped up in displaying their piety or the rich man who cannot be bothered to share a few crumbs with the poor. But the woman in today’s reading, circuitously identified as “the mother of Zebedee’s sons,” is easier to empathize with. She appears to have recognized Jesus as the Messiah, and she wants to secure high places for her sons in His Kingdom. Picture this “tiger mom” approaching Jesus with her grown sons in tow – saying “take care of my boys first” — it makes me smile! Her request is understandable and her initiative is gutsy. Unfortunately, she misses the point. She doesn’t understand what the Kingdom is really about: not places of honor, not power and security, but the willingness to serve others, perhaps even at the cost of one’s life.
The circumstances of my own life, all the things I care about and am attached to, sometimes obscure or distort the meaning of the Kingdom. I hide from the uncomfortable truth that membership in the Kingdom requires service, sacrifice, and at times drinking from the cup of suffering.
Dear Lord, we are drawn to You and seek a place in Your Kingdom. Help me to become aware of the ways in which I misunderstand the message of Your call. Help me to understand what You are asking of me. Redeem me, O faithful God. Amen.
Zsuzanna Kadas, Professor of Mathematics
First Reading: Jeremiah 18:18-20
Psalm 31:5-6, 14-16
Gospel: Matthew 20:17-28
Daily Scripture readings can be found online at the USCCB website