Reflection on Mathew 20: 20-28
20 Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him.
21 “What is it you want?” he asked.
She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.”
22 “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?”
“We can,” they answered.
23 Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.”
24 When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. 25Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
What is the kingdom of God? Can I experience it in my life now? What is life lived outside the kingdom of God? From the experiences of the sons of Zebedee, James and John, we get some answers to these questions. I can identify with James and John in their seeking standing in God’s kingdom. In my younger years I was quite competitive and self seeking too and can still be this way. I’m grateful that Jesus didn’t condemn James and John for this but instead taught them how to truly experience His kingdom, to be true to whom they were and what they really desired. His Way is counter intuitive to my “survivor” way of thinking. Jesus clarifies that he has a “terrible cup” to face, that like James and John he is human too and that he is totally dependent on God the Father (and Mother) for knowledge and strength. I too need to hear this message; it feels counter intuitive to my tendency to depend only on myself.
Jesus goes on to describe God’s kingdom as one of servitude and that gifts of the spirit each of us has been given are not just for us but are to be given to others. These gifts when shared are the Way that God finds us and enables us to put a face on God. This reality I am experiencing more and more as I let go of attachments I’ve held onto as a way to find meaning and purpose and humbly been open to God’s Way. Her Way is the way of servanthood. Servanthood is getting myself out of the way and being there for others in my life. To be such a servant I find that I need let go of my attachments and pray often for God’s help and knowledge of Her will for me. This is the Way to peace and serenity and to experience His kingdom. Peace and serenity are gifts from God that I receive when I surrender to God’s will with my heart. Surrender to God is beautifully described in a paraphrase of an ancient Chinese poem:
“The Religion of Your Heart “
Be cautious of religion.
Rules and doctrines are lifeless things, dried leaves blowing in the Autumn breeze.
The mystery of The Way cannot be taught; it can only be revered and trusted.
Stand beside each other hand in hand and watch the moon together.
Hold others close and be completely present.
Walk beside the splashing stream.
And let your thoughts float on the water.
You will see and know.
Spirituality touches the deepest feelings of the heart.
Do not seek to convert or enlighten one another.
Seek only to understand and cherish the uniqueness of each other’s soul.
Treating each other with acceptance and grace is the religion of the heart.
Questions for reflection: Do you experience God’s kingdom in your life? Do you turn to God for strength, guidance and help? Is it difficult for you to ask for support? Do you trust that God acts through others to give you assistance?