DRINKING THE CHALICE OF MARTYRDOM
James became a disciple of Jesus together with his brother John. He was, with Peter and John, among the apostles closest to Jesus, witnessing the resurrection of Jairus’ daughter, the Lord’s transfiguration and agony.
A “son of thunder” in his zeal for the kingdom, he proposed a hard line against those who did not accept the gospel. But Jesus told him that his task was not to destroy but to save. James himself experienced the consequences of the hard line when he died a martyr’s death, thus sharing Jesus’ cup of sacrifice as the Lord had foretold him.
Lord our God,
Your Son Jesus was your equal
and yet he made himself our brother and servant.
May his Spirit be alive in us,
as he was alive in St. James,
and dispose us to become, like your Son,
powerless and vulnerable
so that we can serve one another,
especially in the weakest of our brothers and sisters.
In this way may people experience
how bold you make our love.
We ask this through Christ our Lord,
1 Reading: 2 Corinthians 4:7-15
Brothers and sisters: We hold this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being given up to death for the sake of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you. Since, then, we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, I believed, therefore I spoke, we too believe and therefore speak, knowing that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and place us with you in his presence. Everything indeed is for you, so that the grace bestowed in abundance on more and more people may cause the thanksgiving to overflow for the glory of God.
Responsorial Psalm 126:1BC-2AB, 2CD-3, 4-5, 6
R. (5) Those who sow in tears shall reap rejoicing.
When the LORD brought back the captives of Zion,
we were like men dreaming.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with rejoicing. R.
Then they said among the nations,
“The LORD has done great things for them.”
The LORD has done great things for us;
we are glad indeed. R.
Restore our fortunes, O LORD,
like the torrents in the southern desert.
Those that sow in tears
shall reap rejoicing. R.
Although they go forth weeping,
carrying the seed to be sown,
They shall come back rejoicing,
carrying their sheaves. R.
Alleluia John 15:16
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I chose you from the world,
to go and bear fruit that will last, says the Lord.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Matthew 20:20-28
The mother of the sons of Zebedee approached Jesus with her sons and did him homage, wishing to ask him for something. He said to her, “What do you wish?” She answered him, “Command that these two sons of mine sit, one at your right and the other at your left, in your Kingdom.” Jesus said in reply, “You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?” They said to him, “We can.” He replied, “My chalice you will indeed drink, but to sit at my right and at my left, this is not mine to give but is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.” When the ten heard this, they became indignant at the two brothers. But Jesus summoned them and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and the great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave. Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
James and John had a long way to go in understanding the nature of the mission of Christ. Jesus chose them knowing well that their intentions in following him were mixed and needed refinement. True enough, the lack of refinement in their intentions showed. In today’s narrative, we see how focused James and John were on receiving powerful positions in the Kingdom. Ironically, they would receive powerful positions, but not in the manner and style they or their mother had expected. They would have to walk the Way of Christ and drink his cup before they would receive his power and glory. They had to walk a long way with Jesus, a walk during which their life would gradually change.
One of the famous pilgrimage centers in Europe is El Camino de Santiago, the Way of St. James. Pilgrims walk the path to the tomb of St James in the Cathedral at Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Ideally, the pilgrimage begins at one’s home and ends at the Cathedral. Ideally, the walk transforms the pilgrim. It definitely takes a long, reflective walk with Christ to purify our intentions and learn what it means to drink his cup and share his cross before we can receive his glory. Let us walk the Way with St. James to the glory Christ holds for us.
– That the basic attitude of our Christian leaders, bishops, priests, lay ministers, may be a spirit of service to their people, we pray:
– That those who are persecuted may never despair but keep trusting in the Lord, we pray:
– That no difficulties may keep our missionaries from preaching the Lord, we pray:
Prayer over the Gifts
Lord our God,
your Son asks us to drink with him the cup
of self-sacrificing service.
Let Jesus fill us with that love
which alone can understand
that to be great is to serve others
and to use up our lives
to give them a chance to live
May we seek no other reward
than to share the destiny of Jesus,
our Lord and Savior for ever.
Prayer after Communion
Lord our God,
your Son Jesus Christ
gave his life for his friends
and lighted in them a fire
that cannot be extinguished.
Strengthened by the bread of Life
may we follow St. James,
your apostle and martyr,
in his total and lasting dedication
to the kingdom of your Son,
Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Our attitude in life is too much that we want to be served. It’s easy and pleasant. Jesus tells us that we have to learn how to serve. That is what will bring us true happiness. Service not power is the call of the kingdom. May almighty God give us that attitude and bless us, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!