2Cor 4:7-15; Ps 126:1-6; Mt 20:20-28
“Those who sow in tears shall reap rejoicing.”
Crying and rejoicing abound in the life of a disciple. Some who are disciples have been called to be apostles. One such disciple and apostle is Saint James, and in today’s celebration we are asked what he was asked, “Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?” We rejoice and are laugh because the Lord brought back the captives, and dreams again fill our nights with visions of the True Light who has come into the world. Among the nations, believers are weeping because of persecution and rejoicing because of the harvest. Sowing found us in tears, and harvesting finds us in gladness. We come back with a heart light with joy and arms heavy with sheaves, and this is our joy that more and more people may cause the thanksgiving to overflow for the glory of God. Saint James and all who follow the Lord Jesus must be willing to serve rather than to be served. Indeed, the Lord Jesus is himself the only model of servant-leadership upon which we can base our life. This is the true greatness of those who follow Christ and those whom Christ sends out to summon the nations to rejoice in the Kingdom of God. With all the holy ones we have been brought back from our exile in the Kingdom of Darkness, and we rejoice!
Everything, indeed, is for those we serve. Everything includes affliction, perplexity, persecution, and being struck down. Such is the agenda of an apostle, and those who follow the apostles. As Saint Paul lived in Corinth and Saint James lived in Jerusalem, we contemporary apostles must live. We carry about in our bodies the dying of Jesus so that his life may also be manifested in our bodies. This glory has been known to shine in the very flesh of the saints—even here on earth. An agnostic documentary filmmaker tried to capture Mother Theresa of Calcutta in the darkness of a street person’s hovel, and when the film was developed the light that made it possible to film came from Mother. Why do these signs and wonders not abound among us? Perhaps we are not quite sure that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus. When we have this spirit of faith then we will speak, and more and more people will come to believe in Jesus the Lord.
In Matthew’s account of this event, the mother of the sons of Zebedee approached Jesus with a request about the future. She wanted her two sons to sit on either side of the Master when the Kingdom arrives in its fullness. When the Lord assured them of the future glory, he made no promise about where they would sit. Rather, he promised that they would drink of the chalice of his suffering. So that we may share in that chalice on the Altar of the Eucharist these first followers all shared in the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus quite literally. Each of the Apostles was martyred for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. They joined in the service of the Son of Man who gave his life for the ransom of the many. We, too, are summoned by the same Master and promised not the glory, fame, and importance we desire, rather we are given a share in the chalice of suffering of the Son of Man. Through him, with him, and in him we taste even the bitterness of suffering and come to know that the Lord is Good! No matter what happens between now and the full arrival of the Kingdom of God; we know that the Lord is God.