“Oh yeah, I guess you can come, too.” Not an enthusiastic invite, but I breathed a sigh of relief all the same.
The chatter of the girls turned again to the latest music, eyeshadow trends, and where your hair should be parted. I considered these girls my best friends, but honestly I clung quietly to the sidelines hoping for a spot of notice, for a moment of recognition. In the situations where I was uncomfortable with their gossip, their malicious words, and purposeful nasty behavior, I shut up knowing opening my mouth would eliminate my chances for the longed-for invite and my recognition as part of the group.
Fast forward fifteen-plus years, and thankfully I’ve gained enough wisdom to know that the game is bigger, and the stakes higher. As a mom myself, I can appreciate the mother in today’s Gospel (Matthew 20:17:28) begging Jesus to ensure her sons a privileged spot. Her ambitions she’d chosen for her children were high, but Jesus reminded her the stakes were even higher.
The attitude of “what’s in it for me?” is hard to shake. To be noticed for your talents, earn recognition in the ministry you pour yourself into, or have your opinion asked on the latest Church conundrum are not in and of themselves bad, but they're a temptation if they edge is as the focus. Our desire for authentic faith and temporal power just aren’t compatible.
“Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?” Jesus asks the sons in Matthew 20:22.
And He also asks us.
The chalice represents for us the cup of suffering, the pouring out of Christ’s blood for the forgiveness of the world. It is an emptying of self, a sacrifice for the other. Will you hope for the attention here and now, the spot of recognition? Or will you strive to serve, asking God how you can be the servant?
Let's pray for the graces to serve with happy hearts.
Sarah Ortiz is a Catholic convert, wife, and mother to four boys while living in a 200 year old farmhouse. When not folding laundry, she can be found reading, experimenting in the kitchen, or snagging amazing antique furniture deals. You can find out more about her here.