Jesus rebukes the Apostles for their honor-seeking and envy and commands them to consider themselves to be slaves. Every Catholic man can grow in happiness by seeking the Fruits of Peace and Joy from the Holy Spirit so he can live in the peace and joy of Jesus and by building the Virtue of Kindness so he can reject envy and strive to be kind to others. 

Liturgy

2nd Week of Lent – Wednesday – Mt 20:17-28

Commentary

After forming the Apostles over a period of several years, Jesus leads them towards Jerusalem and His Passion; it is a stressful time that leaves the disciples “amazed”, and the crowds “afraid” (Mk 10:32). Taking the disciples aside, Jesus, with astonishing precision, reveals the basic details of His Passion including His “trial” by the Jewish leaders, the scourging and Crucifixion by the Gentiles, and His Resurrection after three days. In His Divine Knowledge, in communion with God the Father, Jesus has a detailed and visceral understanding of the horrors of His coming Passion, but He mercifully provides the Apostles only the basics, to spare them from unnecessary turmoil.

Rather than prayerful sorrow for Jesus’ coming ordeal, the mother of the “Sons of Thunder”, James and John, kneels before Jesus, and then selfishly asks Jesus to, “Command that these two sons of mine may sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” Instead of a sharp rebuke for her ill-timed and outrageous demand to glorify her sons, He ignores her, and instead, addresses James and John, perhaps because they have put their mother up to the foolish request. Jesus patiently confirms their ignorance, asking if they can, “drink the chalice”; this is a mysterious reference to His Crucifixion. Jesus confirms they will indeed, “drink My chalice”, a reference to their own suffering (James will be martyred; John will be persecuted and exiled), but Jesus defers to God the Father’s Will as to how each will be rewarded. 

The other ten Apostles are envious and indignant at James and John’s desire to be honored by Jesus above them. Jesus, aware of their anger, summons the Apostles and rebukes their envious desire for honor. Comparing their desires for glory to the lust for power the Gentiles crave, Jesus directs the Apostles to instead model their behavior on Him, and to fix their aspirations on being a slave for the salvation of others. 

Be awed by Jesus Christ

Despite forming the Apostles for three years and clearly describing His imminent betrayal, torture and murder, the Apostles selfishly vie for honor and power. Be amazed at the Divine Meekness (a part of Temperance) of Jesus which allows Him to respond with merciful Patience rather than righteous Wrath and how He uses the Apostles’ sinfulness to teach the necessity of imitating His Divine Humility (a part of Temperance) so they might enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

Receive the peace and joy of Jesus

Realize: In today’s Gospel, Jesus reveals His saving Passion and Resurrection for the third time. 

Believe: Reflect upon how Jesus’ death and resurrection was essential in God’s Plan of Salvation (CCC 599-623).

Pray: Jesus, Prince of Peace, give me Peace and Joy (Fruits of the Holy Spirit) so that my gratitude for the multitude of blessing I have received because of Your saving Passion and Resurrection might be seen by others, and that they too might be drawn to You.

Reject envy and strive to be Kind

Realize: The 10 Apostles’ anger at James and John is due to their envy of the honor and power the Sons of Thunder have requested; likewise, a man can be tempted to become envious when he covets the possessions or honors of others. 

Believe: Review The 10th Commandment (CCC 2534-2557).

Pray: Almighty Father, help me build the Virtue of Kindness (a part of Justice) so I reject the deadly sin of Envy, seek to give glory to You when You bless others, and always remain grateful for the multitude of blessings You have given me.