Blue spring flowers on the Cathedral grounds

Today’s Gospel: Matthew 20:17–28

Jesus is with the twelve and predicts for a third time his passion and death. Overriding this is the mother of James and John who requests places of honor for them in Jesus’ Kingdom. “Are you able to drink the cup that will be mine?” Jesus asks. “We are able,” they reply. They have no idea what they are saying, nor does their mother, or anyone else standing there. But they do know they want prominence and power. And Jesus, rather than trying to explain again what lies ahead, “slow walks” them into understanding servant-leadership which is ultimately grounded in his sacrificial death to come.

We all understand what James and John wanted, and their typical mother, because we are constantly attracted to being special, recognized, set apart and known. It is rooted in human pride, the opposite of humility.  

As we begin this journey from ashes to Easter, and heed the call to self-examination for all the ways we have separated ourselves from God, an inquiry into the nature of humility could be very helpful.

The word originally meant of low estate. But in Christian thought it is elevated to surrender to God’s will, which is the opposite of human pride.

I have recognized this virtue of humility in people over the years. They would have never known this of themselves. And it is always arresting and beautiful to behold. Perhaps for you, as for me, that for now is enough to be a source of thanksgiving: To simply recognize humility.  



Almighty God, who resists the proud and gives grace to the humble: Deliver us when we draw near to you from all self-sufficiency and spiritual pride; and grant to us an ever deepening sense our our humanity and your unfailing mercy; through him who is our only righteousness, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen