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Saved by His Death

First Reading: Jeremiah 18:18-20

The people of Judah and the citizens of Jerusalem said,
“Come, let us contrive a plot against Jeremiah.
It will not mean the loss of instruction from the priests,
nor of counsel from the wise, nor of messages from the prophets.
And so, let us destroy him by his own tongue;
let us carefully note his every word.”

Heed me, O LORD,
and listen to what my adversaries say.
Must good be repaid with evil
that they should dig a pit to take my life?
Remember that I stood before you
to speak in their behalf,
to turn away your wrath from them.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 31:5-6, 14, 15-16

R. (17b) Save me, O Lord, in your kindness.
You will free me from the snare they set for me,
for you are my refuge.
Into your hands I commend my spirit;
you will redeem me, O LORD, O faithful God.
R. Save me, O Lord, in your kindness.
I hear the whispers of the crowd, that frighten me from every side,
as they consult together against me, plotting to take my life.
R. Save me, O Lord, in your kindness.
But my trust is in you, O LORD;
I say, “You are my God.”
In your hands is my destiny; rescue me
from the clutches of my enemies and my persecutors.
R. Save me, O Lord, in your kindness.

Gospel: Matthew 20:17-28

As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem,
he took the Twelve disciples aside by themselves,
and said to them on the way,
“Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem,
and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests
and the scribes,
and they will condemn him to death,
and hand him over to the Gentiles
to be mocked and scourged and crucified,
and he will be raised on the third day.”

Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee approached Jesus with her sons
and did him homage, wishing to ask him for something.
He said to her, “What do you wish?”
She answered him,
“Command that these two sons of mine sit,
one at your right and the other at your left, in your kingdom.”
Jesus said in reply,
“You do not know what you are asking.
Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?”
They said to him, “We can.”
He replied,
“My chalice you will indeed drink,
but to sit at my right and at my left,
this is not mine to give
but is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”
When the ten heard this,
they became indignant at the two brothers.
But Jesus summoned them and said,
“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them,
and the great ones make their authority over them felt.
But it shall not be so among you.
Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant;
whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.
Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve
and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

NAB

feb 23 (1)

A few weeks before my husband and I got married last summer, we met with our priest to finalize details regarding our wedding liturgy. Towards the end of the visit he stood up and grabbed the large crucifix that was hanging on the wall behind him and set it down on the desk in front of us.

Not exactly sure where he was going with this gesture, my husband and I exchanged curious looks as the priest informed us that he wanted us to complete one last activity before we left. He asked me to hold the crucifix and to repeat the following words that sounded something like this:

“Lord, help me to be the daughter of God that you created me to be. Help me to always serve my husband and place his needs above my own. Help me to keep my eyes on you, Lord, as you laid down your life for me. Help me to love you with all of my heart.”

With tears streaming down my cheeks, I handed the crucifix to my husband as he recited a similar prayer. I closed my eyes and realized that even though I had seen the cross nearly every day—on my favorite necklace, on my bedroom dresser, at Mass each Sunday—this was one of the first times I really internalized what the cross did for my life.

As I read today’s Gospel, I couldn’t help but think back to this experience of gazing at the crucifix as Jesus shares the third prediction of His passion with his closest followers. In the first two predictions He shares that He, the Son of Man, will suffer greatly, be killed, and will be raised on the third day, but in this third prediction He takes the details one step further. He reveals that He will specifically be mocked, scourged, and crucified. In sharing these details, He shares what He knew all along: that He must die to save us; that He must place the needs of everyone else above His own needs; that to be great in His kingdom one must serve rather than be served.

And so my dear sisters, during these last few weeks of Lent, I challenge you to take some time each day to reflect on the cross and to not only see it as an mere religious decoration but to see it as the greatest symbol of God’s love for us.

photo by Erica Tighe

Joan Geiger is a North Dakota native and newlywed, and in her spare time she can be found going on adventures with her husband, working as a Registered Dietitian, and drinking coffee. You can find out more about her here.

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