Matthew 20: 17-28

Jesus predicts his suffering and death – and the disciples’ response still leaves a little something to be desired. They have got past last Sunday’s denial of the whole horrible thing – they can, perhaps by now, bring themselves to envision the coming crisis as a sign of God’s work in the world rather than as a defeat – but they are still (as we heard on Sunday) thinking in human terms instead of in the radically new ways of the kingdom of God.

Without getting into the whys of the twins’ mother asking on their behalf (the story is told differently elsewhere, anyway – cf Mark 10: 32-45), it seems that they still think that this is a competition for high honours and rewards to make a mother proud.

Do we sometimes fall into the trap of treating Lent as a competition to be the best, the most pious, the “fastest,” most disciplined disciple? (Aside: yes, sometimes I do.) Instead, that is, of seeing it as an opportunity to serve God’s children, to serve God, to humble and quiet ourselves in prayer?

After all, Jesus did not go to the cross to glorify himself but the one who sent him, and to save sinners. So we, walking in the way of the cross, might wish to reflect upon for whose benefit it is that we fast and pray this Lent.

About Rosalind C Hughes

Rosalind C Hughes is a priest and author living near the shores of Lake Erie. After growing up in England and Wales, and living briefly in Singapore, she is now settled in Ohio. She serves an Episcopal church just outside Cleveland. Rosalind is the author of A Family Like Mine: Biblical Stories of Love, Loss, and Longing , and Whom Shall I Fear? Urgent Questions for Christians in an Age of Violence, both from Upper Room Books. She loves the lake, misses the ocean, and is finally coming to terms with snow.
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