Tue, 25 May 2021
(Sir.36:1,5-6,10-17; Ps.79:8-9,11,13; Mk.10:32-35)
“Take pity on your holy city,
Jerusalem, your dwelling place.”
The prayer of the wise man is good, but I see that the same answer the Lord gave James and John when they asked to sit “one at [His] right hand and the other at [His] left” in His glory, could be given to Sirach: “You do not know what you are asking.” For neither knows the implication of their request – neither can see that it will only be fulfilled in a painful death.
In our gospel Jesus is leading the disciples “on the road going up to Jerusalem,” a crowd following behind. There He will “fulfill the prophecies spoken in [His] name.” There He will “fill Zion with His majesty, [His] temple with [His] glory.” But the keepers of the keys of the temple “will condemn Him to death”; they will thereby destroy the Temple itself. In this way only will the “prophets be proved true.” In this way only He will “deliver us and pardon our sins.” In this way only will He “with [His] great power free those doomed to death.” For the prophets have said that the Servant must suffer. The prophets have said that the Son must die. There is no other way that “three days later He will rise.” There is no other way for Him to redeem those condemned to die.
This must sink into our hearts; this we must understand, we who run so freely from the cross, who think it is a facile thing to “inherit the land.” The Lord will indeed have pity on our souls; He will indeed answer “the prisoners’ sighing” and forget “the iniquities of the past.” But Heaven is attained only by those who drink from His cup; the glory of God is known only by those who share in Jesus’ “bath of pain.” No other way will we be cleansed of our sins. No other way will we be made ready. The cross is the path to the New Jerusalem, and we must walk it with our Lord.
And so, be not lazy about the work He has set before you; fail not to “serve the needs of all.” If you think of yourself and some vain reward, you will never find the blessing which awaits “those for whom it has been reserved.” His “compassion come[s] quickly to us” if we but share in His blood.
O LORD, your Son has come to die
that we might be freed from the death of sin;
on this path of sacrifice let us join Him.
YHWH, you are the eternal God. We are but sinful men. And so, how shall we come into your kingdom? Only by the bath of pain, only by drinking from the chalice of your Son – only by His death on the Cross.
He will be condemned to death. He will be spit upon and mocked. He will indeed be crucified. It is we who lead Him there, we who by our sin and selfishness push Him along the road to Calvary. O LORD, have mercy on our souls!
Hear our sighing in this dark prison; let us live in exile no more. Bring us back to your holy dwelling place… your glory may we somehow know. We call out to you from the ends of the earth, LORD; have compassion on our cries.
Your prophets will be proved true: your Servant will suffer a terrible death. Give us the courage to walk with Him, LORD, to share in the sacrifice He makes.