Saturday, July 25, 2015

Reflection: Matthew 20:20-28

16th Saturday in Ordinary Time – Matthew 20:20-28

Today we hear the familiar story of a mother who had two sons. The mother approaches Jesus and gives him homage. Jesus then asks her what she desires. She immediately tells him: “Command that my sons will sit one at your right and the other on your left hand in your Kingdom!” Jesus must have shocked! He had received many strange requests. However, this woman was much bolder than anyone else who had ever approached him.

Jesus responds that she truly does not know what she is asking. Most likely, the mother believed that her request would bring her sons power, fame and fortune. However, Jesus knew his kingdom was radically different from what she thought it was. Being part of his kingdom would mean that her sons would have to suffer. He tells the woman: “Truly, you don’t know what you are asking.” He asks if her sons truly were ready to drink from the cup that he would drink from. Her sons told him that they were ready to do so. Jesus then told them that it was not his place to decide who would sit at his right and left hand. His Father would make that decision.

The disciples were extremely angry and upset with the brothers. After all, they all had been with Jesus for a long time. And perhaps they also were hoping that they would be the ones who would sit at Jesus’ right or left hand. Jesus then warns his disciples of the danger of desiring power. Power often corrupts the individuals who wield the power!

Jesus tells his disciples that it should be radically different with them. Rather than desiring to wield power, they are to serve one another. He instructs them that this will make them “great.” They are to follow his example: to serve others, not to be served by others.

There is almost an innate desire within human beings for acclaim, recognition and appreciation. All of these gifts are proper and good in moderation. However, individuals who received abundant acclaim or praise also might be tempted to develop a big ego. Jesus desires that his disciples be humble. Humility does not mean groveling or demeaning yourself. Humility comes from the word, humus. Humus is an organic component of soil that is derived from decomposed plant and animal remains and animal excrement. To us, this may sound gross. However, humus adds many nutrients to the soil, aids water retention and also makes the soil more workable.

Our humility may develop as we experience the reality that we are far from perfect. As we acknowledge this, we can be angry or we can use our difficult and painful experiences to “add nutrients to our inner soil.” Thus this rich “inner soil” may enable us to become more fruitful in our lives. If we truly are humble, we will serve others, share our resources and be content. We will not need to be the “first.” Nor will we need “acclaim.”

Humility does not ask us to demean ourselves. Humility requires that we simply be who we are and share who we are with the people in our lives. God has gifted us! Jesus invites us to generously share our gifts, love and attention with others! However, he desires that we do this in a simple, unobtrusive way!

When we share our gifts and love in this manner, truly we are walking in Jesus’ footsteps! We could not ask for more!

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