|The Crucifixion by El Greco|
As we listen to the gospel passage today, we hear this third announcement from Christ of His passion, death, and resurrection. This time, as they are actually walking on the way up to Jerusalem, the Lord pulls the Twelve aside to tell them more explicitly than ever before all that would soon come to pass. But why? Why then? And why so explicit?
Some suggest that it is so that the Twelve would know what was coming and not be utterly blindsided when it happened. Others suggest that it is so that they might have faith despite the events. To these two thoughts St. John Chrysostom adds a third: Christ announced these things so that the Twelve would know that He had full knowledge of all that was to happen to Him – including all of the suffering – and yet He boldly went up anyway, doing so out of love. In this light we see that His announcement stands as a model that they – and we - are called to imitate, a model of suffering out of love.
Like James and John and their mother, we can sometimes lose sight of the necessity of suffering, though. Like them, we too can seek to attain the glories of the resurrection without enduring the sufferings of the passion and death on the cross. And just as James, John, and their mother approached the Lord and were reminded of the necessity of this suffering, we too are reminded through our prayer and sacrifices in this season of Lent that the only way to eternal life is through suffering and death, following that same model of love Jesus Himself set out for us.
It is an obvious fact, my brothers and sisters, that all us have our trials to endure. They may be little or great, spiritual, physical or emotional, but we all have them. And we also have the guarantee that more will come our way in the future. The challenge then is to know that those trials exist and will continue to come, and yet still follow after Christ who boldly went up to Jerusalem, each of us going to our own personal passion and death. The question that each of us must ask ourselves is this: are we ready?