“Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?”

Nearing Jerusalem in the last days of His life, Jesus very specifically foretells to the disciples what will soon happen to Him (Mt 20:17-28).  He tells of His impending arrest, conviction, mocking, scourging, crucifixion, and resurrection.  After saying this, the mother of apostles James and John asks Jesus to place her sons at His right and left in the Kingdom.  Jesus responds by asking the two men the question above.  They respond in the affirmative.  Jesus, in reply, tells them they will drink the chalice but that their place in heaven will be determined by the Father.  When the other ten express their displeasure with these two Jesus reminds them of the importance of humility and service, offering Himself as an example, particularly His upcoming death for the ransom of all men.  As with most, if not all, questions Jesus asks of His hearers, this question is directed to us as well.  Continuing a theme we have been hearing often during Lent, Jesus calls everyone to imitate Him in service to mankind.  For Jesus this would lead to brutal torture and death.  This is the thanks He got for preaching the truth.  Do we expect something different?  We should be willing, even happy, to take the cup of suffering, and unite our trials and tribulations with those of Christ.  These things will come to pass anyway, so why not go through them with the One who preceded us in a trial we cannot even imagine.  He understands our pains on every level: emotional, physical, and spiritual.  He bore the weight of all sins of all time in His body, soul, and spirit.  Suffering will come in the normal course of everyone’s life.  If we joyfully exacerbate our difficulties by living and speaking the gospel truth in season and out of season, especially in this time “when people will not tolerate sound doctrine […] and will stop listening to the truth,” thanks be to God! (2 Tim 4:1-5 and cf. Acts 5:40-41)  The key is to have frequent recourse to the Lord who empathizes, heals, and strengthens.

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