ARE YOU ABLE TO DRINK THE CUP THAT I DRINK?
(A biblical refection on THE 29th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME [YEAR B] – 18 October, 2015)
Gospel Reading: Mark 10:35-45
First Reading: Isaiah 53:10-11; Psalms: Psalm 33:4-5,18-19,20,22; Second Reading: Hebrews 4:14-16
And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to Him, and said to Him, “Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask of You.” And He said to them, “What do you want Me to do for you?” And they said to Him, “Grant us to sit, one at Your right hand and one at Your left, in Your glory.” But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what You are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” And they said to Him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; but to sit at My right hand or at My left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” And when the ten heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John. And Jesus called them to Him and said to them, “You know that those who are supposed to rule over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of man also came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:35-45 RSV)
Jesus did not rebuke James and John when they asked to sit at His side in glory. Instead He challenged them: “Are you able to drink the cup that I drink?” (Mark 10:38). Parrying their lofty ambitions with His humility, Jesus corrected His disciples’ zeal for glory and taught them to heed God’s call to humble service instead.
Jesus’ humility was born of His love for the Father and for the world. He was willing to endure anything – even death – to save humankind. It’s this kind of humility that releases God’s love to the world and advances His Kingdom. It’s this kind of humility Jesus taught His followers when He said, “Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all” (Mar 10:43-44).
Make no mistake – Jesus is not after a bunch of shrinking violets. That’s not the kind of humility He’s looking for. He wants a people like Himself who will shoulder the Father’s sadness over the suffering in the world. He is looking for a people who will work with Him so that the world will be freed from sin. Rather than rebuking the misdirected ambition of James and John, Jesus channeled it into an embrace of the Father’s will: “The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized” (Mark 10:39).
Lest we become discouraged, it’s important to understand that this cup of sacrifice is also one of intimacy with God. Every act of death to self for the Kingdom brings us closer to Jesus. The more fully we drink this cup, the more fully we learn that Jesus never asks more from us than He empowers us to give. He invites us always to “draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).
Short Prayer: Lord Jesus, we hereby commit ourselves to You, to serve one another humbly, as You have loved and served us. Amen.
Jakarta, 15 October 2015 [Feast of St. Teresa of Avila]
A Christian Pilgrim