Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Lord speaking to us through the Scriptures, reminding us to remain faithful to Him despite the challenges and trials that we may face in the midst of our journey of faith through life. We are reminded that following the Lord may not be an easy as it seems to be, and that just as the Lord Himself had faced a lot of rejection and opposition, hence we also have to be prepared to be treated in the same way.
In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of the prophet Jeremiah in which the opposition and plotting against Jeremiah was highlighted to us. Jeremiah was the prophet sent to the people and kingdom of Judah during its final years and days, reminding God’s people and calling on them to turn away from their wicked and sinful ways, and trust once again in the Lord instead of the falsehoods of the pagan idols and the false prophets that had been running rampant in ruining the kingdom and the people with their lies.
Those same false prophets and idolaters were the ones who hated Jeremiah and his works, plotting against him with each other and with collusion from the powerful nobles in trying to bring him down, accusing him with treason and with various other false accusations. They wanted to remove him as a great threat to their position, power and preeminence in the kingdom and the community as Jeremiah continued to work against them in proclaiming God’s truth to His people.
Jeremiah trusted in the Lord and placed his fate in His hands, and he followed the Lord and His providence, walked in the path that he had been shown, persevering even against the many challenges that he had to endure for the sake of his faith in God, as well as for the sake of the remnants of the people and the kingdom of Judah. He endured the sufferings and trials, and remained true to his faith to the end, as a truly exemplary role model to all of us Christians, God’s followers and people.
In our Gospel passage today, we then heard of the moment when the sons of Zebedee, James and John, two of the Twelve closest among the Lord’s disciples, tried to gain extra favour from Him and brought their mother along in trying to gain for themselves better position among the Lord’s followers and inner circle, despite the fact that they were already among His closest confidants and assistants. They were trying to gain favour with the Lord as they must have thought that following Jesus the Messiah, as was commonly believed at that time, would lead to the restoration of the Kingdom of Israel.
Hence, the disciples were jostling for influence and power, for connection with the Lord, hoping that through their closeness to the Lord, they could benefit in terms of being possibly appointed as powerful members of the Lord’s court once He restored the kingdom of Israel. However, they did not know or realise that it was not what the Lord intended to do. He came indeed as King, but not to restore the earthly kingdom of Israel, but to gather everyone into the one true and eternal Kingdom of God.
But in order to do that, first He would have to suffer grievously much as Jeremiah His servant had once suffered at the hands of his enemies. The Lord had to endure rejection and persecution, the most painful torture and a most humiliating death on the Cross, all the cup of suffering that He had to partake and drink as part of His mission, His Passion, His death and eventually, His Resurrection. It was this same cup of suffering which the Lord mentioned to James and John in today’s Gospel reading.
The Lord said it clearly that His disciples would also drink from His cup of suffering, sharing the same fate that He had experienced. In another occasion, the Lord also said that unless one takes up his cross and follows Him, then he cannot truly be His disciple. This is yet again another reminder that as Christians, all of us will likely face challenges and trials in our path, and we have to be steady in faith and not easily give up regardless of what we may be facing along the way. We have to keep our faith and trust in the Lord at all times.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, let this time and season of Lent be a time of renewal of faith for us, for us to deepen our relationship with God through more time spent on prayer and our many Lenten observances, through which hopefully we may draw closer to His path, His Law and commandments. Let us help each other in our journey of faith towards the Lord, and help one another to persevere through the many challenges and trials we may have to face for the Lord’s sake.
May the Lord be with us and empower us to live ever more worthily in His presence, now and always. May our Lenten season and observance be truly fruitful, in all the things we say and do, all for the greater glory of God. Amen.