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Wednesday, second week of Lent

March 23, 2011

Blessed St. Toribio of Mogrovejo’s Day!

You can read his story here.

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)

I hear the whispers of the crowd,
that frighten me on every side,
as they consult together against me,
plotting to take my life
-Psalm 31:14

The men of Judah and the citizens of Jerusalem said
“Let us contrive a plot against Jeremiah…
let us destroy him by his own tongue”
-Jeremiah 18:18

Then the Pharisees went off and began to plot
how they might trap Jesus in speech.
-Matthew 22:15

(See also Matthew 22:35, Mark 12:13, Luke 20:20-26, John 8:6)

The God we’re following out here in the desert of Lent is on His way to the cross.
The decision has been made.
The plot is in place (see Matthew 12:14, 26:4, John 7:1, 11:53-57).
It’s only a matter of time.

That fact colors everything. Impending death does that.
Motivations, priorities and sacrifices all take on new significance in light of our mortality.
Many of the things we prize so highly
suddenly pale in significance when we realize that they won’t help us in the hour of death.

This is the perspective that Jesus brings to His ambitious disciples
as He sets His face toward Jerusalem, toward the cross.
He tells them plainly that He is about to be condemned, mocked, flogged and crucified.

They don’t get it.
He’s just been talking about the Kingdom, after all.
They’d much rather dwell on that!
So…can we reserve the seats of honor? (First come, first serve, right?)

You do not know what you are asking.
-Matthew 20:22

They didn’t, of course.
We usually don’t.
How could James and John know
that they were asking to be hung on the crosses to Jesus’ right and left on Calvary?
…although John would stand at the foot of this sacred tree,
taking Jesus’ mother into his care.

Jesus took their request as an opportunity to draw His disciples together,
to teach them the lessons they could not yet see in His impending death.

Despite our best efforts, power does not survive the grave.
Popularity, position and fancy titles mean nothing in the end.
What matters then is a life well-lived,
a noble character developed through generosity and sacrifice,
relationships that have built up and benefited those around us–
especially if they didn’t deserve it.

This is what Jeremiah did:

I stood before You to speak on their behalf,
to turn away Your wrath from them
-Jeremiah 18:20

It’s what Jesus came to do;
what He came to model for His followers of all time:

Such is the case with the Son of Man
Who has come, not to be served by others but to serve,
to give His life as a ransom for the many
-Matthew 20:28

The God we’re following out here in the desert of Lent is on His way to the cross.
As long as we keep following Him, so are we.
How does that change your priorities?

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