Meditation for Wednesday of the 2nd Week of Lent
(Jer 18:18-20; Mt 20:17-28)
Is it possible to live a good life without persecution or obstacles? The pursuit of holiness is often punctuated with many trials; it is a road less travelled. These trials can be internal or external. The first reading flashes us with the persecutions and cries of prophet Jeremiah. He was surrounded by enemies, who tried their best to bring him down. “Come, let us plot against Jeremiah…Come, let us strike him with the tongue, and let us not heed any of his words.” The prophet seemed helpless in face of these trials. He complained to God, “Give heed to me, O Lord, and listen to my plea. Is evil a recompense for good? Yet they dug a pit for my life.”
The cries of Jeremiah echo the agony of all who are suffering because of their righteous lives. In Jesus, God gave His ultimate response to the persecution of the just, which is the Cross. “The Son of man will be delivered to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death…and He will be raised on the third day.” Jesus goes ahead of us with the burden of persecution up to the Cross to overcome it. But the mother of the Sons of Zebedee wanted her children to occupy a privileged position in the kingdom without a ‘privileged cross.’ She did not know what she was asking. We must work out our salvation in fear and trembling (Phil 2:12). “We must endure many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). That was why Jesus asked her, “Are you able to drink the chalice that I am to drink?”
However, the glory of the Cross—the victory over persecution—is far more than the persecution. That is, the eternal life Jesus won for us is richer and deeper than the death that threatens us! “What is sown is perishable; but what is raised is imperishable” (1 Cor 15:42). So, drinking the chalice of suffering does not qualify one for a privileged reward in Heaven, “But it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.” While we battle with persecutions to live a holy life, the victory given in the Resurrection of Jesus comes as a free gift. That is why we must be humble, even in trials and in freedom; in leadership or followership. “Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave; even as the Son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” Amen.
Fr Jude Chinwenwa Nwachukwu, C.Ss.R
Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church,
Wednesday March 3rd, 2021.