Gospel Reflection on 29th Sunday: 17th October 2021

Can we drink the cup?

In the scriptures, “cup” is frequently used as a metaphor for suffering.

Sooner or later, life is going to lead you, as it did Jesus, into the belly of the whale, into a place where you can’t fix, control, explain, or understand. It cannot be merely theoretical: it is usually a very concrete and personal place. That’s where transformation most easily and deeply happens. That’s when you’re uniquely in the hands of God because you cannot “handle” it yourself.

In other words, you have to enter into at least one situation in your life where you’re not in control, you’re not ‘number one’, you’re not the best, you’re not in charge, you’re not right, you’re not winning – and see how you deal with that. And if you can come through that and come out the other side still happy, still trustful, still loving, saying ‘Yes’ to whatever each day brings – then you have gone through the mystery of death and suffering and coming out the other side better and more alive and more in love and, believe it or not, even more happy and more free. You have been led to the edge of your own resources, and learned how to rely upon The Resource, The Source: God. Then you know, maybe for the first time, who you really are. And it’s not just you but the God who is in you and with you and for you more than you are for yourself. And then you can freely do what Jesus says in today’s Gospel reading: You don’t come to be served, but to serve; you don’t come for others to take care of you but you want to take care of others, the way you have been so beautifully taken care of.

Richard Rohr

‘I slept and dreamt that life was joy,
I woke and found that life was service,
I served and found that service was joy.’

R. Tagore

Gospel: Mark 10.35-45

James and John. the sons of Zebedee, approached Jesus. “Master,” they said to him “we want you to do us a favour.” He said to them, “What is it you want me to do for you?” They said to him, “Allow us to sit one at your right hand and the other at your left in your glory.” “You do not know what you are asking” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup that I most drink, or be baptised with the baptism with which I must be baptised?” They replied, “We can.” Jesus said to them, “The cup that I must drink you shall drink, and with the baptism with which I must be baptised you shall be baptised, but as for seats at my right hand or my left, these are not mine to grant: they belong to those to whom they have been allotted.”

When the other ten heard this they began to feel indignant with James and John, so Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that among the pagans their so-called rulers lord it over them, arid their great men make their authority felt. This is not to happen among you. No; anyone who wants to become great among you must be your servant, and anyone who wants to be first among you must be slave to all. For the Son of Man himself did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.