Death and Resurrection

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Wednesday of the Second Week of Lent

Matthew 20:17-28

As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve (disciples) aside by themselves, and said to them on the way, “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.”

Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee approached him with her sons and did him homage, wishing to ask him for something. 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.”

Opening Prayer: Lord God, today I grapple with the weight of the cross. How it drags me down! Tell me once again–impress upon me more deeply–the truth of the Paschal law: one must die in order to have life. O God, give me resurrected life. You who did not spare your own Son, will you also not give me all the graces I ask for?

Encountering Christ:

  1. Prediction of the Passion: This is the third prophecy of Christ’s passion in Matthew’s Gospel. Christ had to suffer as the other servants of God suffered. The people wanted to kill Jeremiah. David had to flee from his own son into exile. Moses was prevented from entering the Promised Land. Elijah ran headlong into the desert to avoid the wrath of Jezebel. Yet, when Christ predicted his own suffering and death, he was met with incomprehension. They were slow to believe, as we sometimes can be. Christ chided the disciples on the road to Emmaus: “Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” With the benefit of the Gospels and the teachings of the Church, let us reaffirm our faith in our suffering Savior and embrace our own suffering in imitation of Christ this Lent.
  1. We Can: Two brothers sought a special grace, a particular honor—to sit at Jesus’s right and at his left. They were bursting with enthusiasm–these “sons of thunder”–with high aspirations for life, and hearts full of loyalty. They asked Jesus for something good, and they asked together. They spoke but once in the whole passage, with a full-throated “We can!” Yet, what was in the cup that the brothers were invited to drink? Water, or wine, or…vinegar? The cup was Christ’s passion. They would have to suffer, and not only individually, but as brothers, as mutual friends of Jesus, as the Church.
  1. He Will Be Raised: “He will be raised on the third day.” The Son of Man will indeed rise from the dead after his sufferings—liturgically speaking, when the forty days of Lent have ended. Never forget Easter Sunday, even when it feels like Good Friday. Jesus underwent his passion because he was passionate for us. He rose because death could no longer hold him. In the very act of his death, Jesus showed us that love means giving our life for others. When our personal sacrifice seems to lead to death we can be confident that Christ will one day raise us up.

Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, give me the courage to reply “I can” whenever I am presented with the cross in my life. With you, Lord Jesus, all things are possible. With you, I can even accept the cross because I know it leads to life.

Resolution: Lord, today by your grace, I will foster a spirit of gratitude for Christ who suffered out of love for me.

For Further Reflection: Meditate on the Suffering Servant chapters of Isaiah (Isaiah 42:1-4, Isaiah 49:1-6, Isaiah 50:4-7, and Isaiah 52:13-53:12). 

written by Br. Erik Burckel, LC

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