Pink blossoms framing a stone status in the Cathedral gardens

Matthew 20:17-28

While Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside by themselves, and said to them on the way, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death; then they will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified; and on the third day he will be raised.”

Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to him with her sons, and kneeling before him, she asked a favor of him. And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Declare that these two sons of mine will sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” But Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.” He said to them, “You will indeed drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left, this is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”

When the ten heard it, they were angry with the two brothers. But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

It appears that we are all living fast-paced, stressful lives. Our days often begin with the navigation of commutes that have become increasingly challenging and time consuming. Our thoughts are consumed with the details of our lives and the questions about the circumstances in our lives that are ever present. As we move through our days, information on every subject is not only available to us but thrust upon us via radio, television, social media and other channels seeking our attention. We are encouraged to multitask but be clearly focused at the same time. This all takes place while being advised to consider the major aspects of life without sweating the small stuff.

Jesus in this passage speaks to the disciples as they had struggled to unsuccessfully provide assistance to a boy in need of healing. Many commentators have characterized them as the “could not” disciples. They were followers of Jesus that were making great claims without bringing about great change. When the disciples asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” Jesus replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Before we seek to be mountain movers, today we must first increase our faith. I hear the calls and demands for major change in the midst of this generational confusion and chaos. The calls, demands and expectations are often directed toward others but during this season of Lent, we should be moved to turn and examine ourselves. A life filled with faith not only transformed their own life but the world in which they live!


O Lord, we come this morning knee bowed and body bent before thy throne of grace. We come this morning Lord, like empty pitchers before a full fountain, realizing that many who are better by nature than we are by practice have passed into that great beyond; and yet you have allowed us your humble servants to plod along just a few days longer here in this howling wilderness. We thank thee Lord that we arose this morning, and that our bed was not a cooling board, and our sheet was not a winding shroud. We are not gathered here for form or fashion, but we come in our humble way to serve thee. We thank thee Lord that we are clothed in our right mind– bless the sick and afflicted– those who are absent through no fault of their own. And when I have done prayed my last prayer and sung my last song, and when I’m done climbing the rough side of the mountain, when I come down to tread the steep and prickly banks of Jordan, meet me with thy rod and staff and bear me safely over. All these things I ask in Jesus’ name, world without end. Amen.

–An Old Prayer from the African-American Church