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Wednesday, second week of Lent

March 11, 2009

Blessed Wednesday!

Father, teach us to live good lives,
encourage us with Your support and bring us to eternal life.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God forever and ever. Amen.
(Opening prayer of today’s Mass)

Jeremiah 18:18-20 (Jeremiah has prayed for his persecutors)
Psalm 31:5-6, 14-16 “Save me, O Lord, in Your steadfast love”
+Matthew 20:17-28 (the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve)

“Heed me, O Lord, and listen to what my adversaries say.
Must good be repaid by evil that they should dig a pit to take away my life?
Remember that I stood before You to speak on their behalf,
to turn away Your wrath from them” (Jeremiah 18:19-20)

Welcome to godly leadership, Jeremiah. James and John, do you realize that this is what you’re asking for? Apostles, you’re jealous of this?!

To be a godly leader in this world is to court persecution and death. It’s to have heroic sacrifice repaid by contempt and injury, good repaid by evil. This cup is bitter indeed.

Jesus is on His way to Jerusalem for the last time. He, like Jeremiah, knows the plotting of His enemies. He is prepared. His disciples are not, yet they’re the ones who will have to carry on, to pick up His leadership when He is taken from them. They must learn to become more like Him, learn to serve, to give their lives for the ransom of the many.

One thing they have right. They want to be near Him, on His right and on His left in His Kingdom. They don’t understand yet that He will reign from a cross, that the ones on His right and left will be criminals. Of all the Apostles, only John will stay near, with the Blessed Virgin, at the foot of the cross (see John 19:26-27).

Jesus encourages their desire, gathering them near Himself in the present. Trust in Him will ultimately empower them to bear the weight of sacrificial leadership. “You are my refuge. Into Your hands I commend my spirit…my trust is in You, O Lord” (Psalm 31:5-6, 15).

Jesus draws us to Himself too, as the shadow of the cross begins to lengthen on our Lenten horizon. By virtue of our Baptism and Confirmation, we too are leaders, commissioned to lay down our lives in the service of the Gospel, to take up our cross in order to lead souls to Christ.

We were never meant to carry the burden alone. “Come to Me, all you who are weary and find life burdensome, and I will refresh you. Take My yoke upon your shoulders and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble of heart. Your souls will find rest, for My yoke is easy and My burden light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

Nor were we meant to crawl in weary resignation. “On the third day He will be raised up” (Matthew 20:19). Jesus, Who endured the shame of the cross for the sake of the joy set before Him, now sits enthroned at God’s right hand (see Hebrews 12:2). As we become one with Him in His suffering, so we will share in His glory (see Romans 6:5), seated at God’s right hand–just as James and John requested!

May the Presence of Jesus strengthen us to bear the weight of servant-leadership joyfully, that many souls may be drawn to Christ!

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