February 5, 2015
Dear brothers and sisters,
The good news today is from Mark 10:35-40.
Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him 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 cup 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 cup that I drink, you will drink, and with the baptism with which I will be 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.”
According to the notes in the New American Bible, “[T]he metaphor of drinking the cup is used in the Old Testament to refer to acceptance of the destiny assigned by God.” In the case of James and John and all those who follow Jesus it means to share in His suffering by living in accord with his teachings, the good news, the gospel. That should be the objective of disciples, not the status, the glory, that James and John sought. I’m like James and John. I want the reward that I think I have earned by doing the best I can — some but not all of time — to follow Jesus and love and forgive others. I ask all kinds of things of him — things I desire like restoration of health, a consulting engagement I really wanted, the repair of a relationship, relief from financial stress. Maybe not the status and glory that James and John had in mind, but things that were important to me nonetheless.
Am I ready, though, to really follow Jesus, to live the gospels and accept the suffering that inevitably accompanies such a life, the hard choices that have to be made? Putting my own desires aside, accepting the destiny that God has in store for me? It’s plainly clear that I’m not. However, Jesus didn’t give up on James and John. He won’t give up on me either. I just need to keep following Jesus as they did. Step by step, day by day.