Have you ever had a conversation with someone, and you just knew, they didn’t understand what you were trying to tell them? Okay, so that is a rhetorical question. Of course, you have…we all have. We have something important to say…and the other person just doesn’t get it. Maybe, they were busy when we approached them, and we didn’t wait to get their full attention. Maybe, they’re minds were on something else, and they weren’t able to focus on our conversation. There are too many scenarios to jot down…you get the picture. No matter where the fault lies…our point is not heard.
One of our recent Mass readings was from Matthew 20:17-28.
“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.”
He said to her, “What do you wish?” She answered him, “Command that these two sons of mine sit, one at your right and the other at your left, in your kingdom.” Jesus said in reply, “You do not know what you are asking, “Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink?” They said to him, “We can.”
He replied, “My cup you will indeed drink, but to sit at my right and at my left, this is not mine to give but is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.” When the ten heard this, they became indignant at the two brothers. But Jesus summoned them and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and the great ones make their authority over them felt.
But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave. Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
In my Bible, these verses come under two headings: verses 17-19 are titled, The Third Prediction of the Passion, and verses 20-28 are titled, The Request of James and John. In the first section, Jesus is sharing something of great importance with the twelve disciples. He is telling them exactly what is going to happen to him: he is describing his own death.
In the second passage, the mother of James and John, sons of Zebedee, approaches Jesus with her own agenda: a special place of honor for each of her sons. She asks Jesus to allow her sons to sit at his right and left hands in his kingdom. And when Jesus asks if they can endure what he is about to endure…what he had just told them about…they answered that they could.
Two things I wondered about: how much time passed between the two events and did James and John share the conversation that Jesus had with the disciples, with their mother.
Have you ever read the scriptures and wondered, “Why didn’t he/she/they get it?” I have. From the comfort of my twenty-first century living room, with my “information highway” at my fingertips, standing on the shoulders of the fathers of Christianity and the doctors of the Church…I read the scriptures and wonder. And yet, as I have said before, I’m prone to running ahead of God. I start to listen, think I have it all figured out, and then it’s off to the races I go! And it’s usually when things start going badly or I’m standing in the dense forest (yes, I chose the word dense on purpose…lol), that I begin to wonder. Did I hear what God was telling me in full? Did I truly listen or am I out here on my own volition?
That’s why, as a Benedictine Oblate, we are required to read from St. Benedict’s Rule every day. To remind ourselves of our pledge of stability, fidelity and obedience. That’s why the first words of the Rule, in the picture above, are so important. I read them over and over, to remind myself that I need to slow my mind and my feet…and listen.