March 3, 2010

Drink The Cup, If You're So Special

Today at Mass (Mt 20: 17-28) we hear about one of my favorite supporting characters in the gospels, the unnamed mother of the sons of Zebedee. I appreciate her anonymity, because she is a character one meets over and over in the ministry. Even my favorite Wikipedia article of all time--"List of names for the Biblical Nameless" doesn't provide a name for her. I suppose that down through the ages parents have been calling up schools and churches to push for the advancement of the children. Their kid is the smartest, so she needs to be in the highest academic bracket. Their kid is the best singer or the best looking, so he needs to be given the lead in the play. I'm sure anyone who is reading this has an example. Since it often works, who can blame them for the bad taste of their intrigue? After all, people who become teachers and clergy are helpers at heart and want to be nice to everyone, and they often give in. The squeaky wheel gets the grease, as is said. Everybody hates whining, but we don't hate it enough to not want to get rid of it the easy way and give in.

I love how Jesus turns it around, and uses this very human moment to show how everything is different in the Kingdom of God. For His Kingdom is ruled from the throne of the Cross, and to be ambitious within it is to want to place oneself below others as their servant and slave. This is why the Cross is the salvation of the world; It undermines and subverts all of the quiet and respectable violences by which we try to 'get ahead' of each other in the selfish mess of our lives. The Cross is the escape from the cycles of violence by which we build fleeting securities and comforts for ourselves at the expense of the flourishing of others. This goes for the smallest malicious gossip all the way up to the wars and genocides of profane history.

On the Cross, Jesus gives us an example but also blazes a trail. It is a path out of the futility of violence and abuse of power. All sin is an abuse of power, after all, a misuse and deordination of what we as creatures could be for each other. When we apply the Cross to ourselves as our relationships, we learn the salvation of forgetting about getting ahead of others, and seek to put ourselves below them. This is the salvation Jesus holds out to a tired world.


for narnia said...

nice sharing, Fr. C! and, great homily at Mass this morning. thank you, too, for the honor of serving the Mass. i was happy to do it! in my experience with caring for children, i sometimes encounter them as a bit "full of themselves," if you know what i mean and i try to gently lead them away from that way of thinking, especially when they sometimes think of themselves as superior to others. i like the last paragraph of your post about how Jesus gives us an example on the Cross. it's all about serving and giving of ourselves-that's one of the messages of the Cross of Jesus. just today, someone said to me that "there's more to life than just church things." i'm not exactly sure what that was supposed to mean. i feel that i have a good balance of what i do in life-prayer, work, rest, and play. i work about 40 hours a week and much of my free time is spent at one of the three churches that i'm active at, but that's what it's about for me (serving others) and it is what brings peace. i do take occasional rest breaks if i really need it or am not feeling well (but usually not long breaks.) PEACE! ~tara t~

Jeanne said...

Now I'm going to have to go back and read that've given me something new to think about!

ben in denver said...

Well, I always assumed that if theri father's name was Zebedee, then "Thunder" must have been their mother's name! ;)

Brother Charles said...

Good one, Ben!