In today’s first reading, Jeremiah 18: 18-20, we are told about the people of Judah’s plot to kill Jeremiah: “Come, let us contrive a plot against Jeremiah. It will not mean the loss of instruction from the priests, nor of counsel from the wise, nor of messages from the prophets. And so, let us destroy him by his own tongue; let us carefully note his every word.” Jeremiah asks God to spare him this kind of suffering:
Heed me, O Lord,
And listen to what my adversaries say.
Must good be repaid with evil
that they should dig a pit to take my life?
Remember that I stood before you
To speak in their behalf,
to turn away your wrath from them.
Obviously, Jeremiah is a prefiguration of Jesus. Throughout Jesus’ public ministry, the scribes and the Pharisees plotted to put Him to death by his own words. ”Carefully, [H]is every word” was noted. Like Jeremiah, Jesus begs His Father to take note. In the Garden of Gethsemane, “he threw himself on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, this hour might pass him by. ‘Abba, Father! For you everything is possible. ‘Take this cup away from me. But let it be as you, not I, would have it.”
How willing, when I encounter suffering, am I to pray: “Abba, Father! For you everything is possible. Take this cup away from me. But let it be as you, not I, would have it”?
In today’s Gospel, Matthew 20: 17-28, Jesus tells the Twelve that they are on their way up to Jerusalem. “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death, and hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and scourged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.”
You and I, throughout our life time, also are on our way to Jerusalem. And, like the Twelve, we don’t always get it (See today’s Gospel)! Sadly, we could, like them, still be clamoring for first place, for places of privileges, for special favors that put us above others, as in the case of James and John, who, through their mother, begged to be given special privileges in Jesus’ kingdom, which at that point they still believed would be an earthly one!
For what am I clamoring? Do I realize that, as a follower of Jesus, I, too, am going up to Jerusalem, where, through the process of dying and through death itself, I will be raised to a new life of grace, a life where good triumphs over evil, where I am put in right relationships with God, self and others, where there are no more tears or suffering, and where sin will not prevail?