I counted no less than sixteen (!) requests and demands of God in the three short paragraphs of today’s first reading from Sirach. And more of the same in Psalm 79. By the time I reached the Gospel of Mark - walking with the disciples, following Jesus, listening to him tell us (again) why he needed to leave us, how he would suffer at the hands of the people in power during the days ahead - I could almost taste Jesus’ exasperation with James and John when they said “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” Even if I didn’t understand (still) all that Jesus was trying to tell us about his kingdom, his suffering and death, I wouldn’t have chosen that moment to ask to sit next to him during his reign! I might have pressed him on why this was necessary; tried to persuade him to another course of action, but not ask for such an enormous favor.
But Jesus is so patient… “Ah, they still don’t get it, let me try again”. And so he says to them, “Can you swallow what I will swallow? Do you have the stomach for it? Can you suffer with me? Can you allow your ego to die so others may know the Glory of God?”
The other day I was talking with a friend about the pain in the world, and that if we each really knew, really experienced, the depth of God’s love for us, we would not be inflicting so much pain on each other and on ourselves.
I’m reminded of the encounter of Jesus with the woman at the well (John 4:10) “Jesus answered and said to her, "If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you, 'Give me a drink,' you would have asked him and he would have given you living water." Or the last discourse in the Gospel of John, (17:10) Jesus prays for his disciples “and everything of mine is yours and everything of yours is mine, and I have been glorified in them.” And Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, (3:18-19) that you “may have strength to comprehend with all the holy ones what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”
Everything we need has been given to us! Everything! And yet we still beg for little favors when we have been given the Kingdom!
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