Get past your own interests

Wednesday 8 March 2023 2nd week of Lent

Jeremiah 18:18-20
‘Come on,’ they said, ‘let us concoct a plot against Jeremiah; the priest will not run short of instruction without him, nor the sage of advice, nor the prophet of the word. Come on, let us hit at him with his own tongue; let us listen carefully to every word he says.’
Listen to me, O Lord, hear what my adversaries are saying. Should evil be returned for good? For they are digging a pit for me. Remember how I stood in your presence to plead on their behalf, to turn your wrath away from them.

Psalm 30 Save me in your love, O Lord.

Matthew 20:17-28
Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, and on the way he took the Twelve to one side and said to them, ‘Now we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man is about to be handed over to the chief priests and scribes. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the pagans to be mocked and scourged and crucified; and on the third day he will rise again.’
Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came with her sons to make a request of him, and bowed low; and he said to her, ‘What is it you want?’ She said to him, ‘Promise that these two sons of mine may sit one at your right hand and the other at your left in your kingdom.’ ‘You do not know what you are asking’ Jesus answered. ‘Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink?’ They replied, ‘We can.’ ‘Very well,’ he said ‘you shall drink my cup, but as for seats at my right hand and my left, these are not mine to grant; they belong to those to whom they have been allotted by my Father.’
When the other ten heard this they were indignant with the two brothers. But Jesus called them to him and said, ‘You know that among the pagans the rulers lord it over them, and their great men make their authority felt. This is not to happen among you. No; anyone who wants to be great among you must be your servant, and anyone who wants 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 as a ransom for many.’


Two types of listening are articulated in the passage about Jeremiah.
The first is a listening that already knows what it wants to hear. Pre-meditated listening has the answers before the conversations have taken place.
The second is a profound cry for empathy. Jeremiah calls on God to hear and understand. To remember. To acknowledge the truth as it stands for all to see.
The adversaries of Jeremiah want to use his words as a trap.
God will remember Jeremiah’s faithfulness to free him.

Again, in the text from Matthew we hear the same patterns of listening.
Jesus tells his disciples what is about to befall him.
The mother of Zebedee’s sons came with her sons, and as if they have not heard at all, make claims of self-interest.
The other ten are no better. Their indignation displays their concern for themselves.
Come on people!! Jesus just shared with you the violence that awaits him and you’re squabbling over the spoils already before he is even dead, like children arguing over who will get the inheritance.

Jesus then speaks to them all about service. What a great act of service is it to listen to a fellow traveller on the road. Jesus says this is the mark of greatness – give up your life for one another. Transcend yourself by your charity.