BAPTISM BY BLOOD
“Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him, with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something. And he said to her, ‘What do you want?’ She said to him, ‘Command that these two sons of mine may sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.’ But Jesus answered, ‘You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink, and be baptised with the baptism that I am baptised with?’ They said to him, ‘We are able.’ He said to them, ‘You will drink my cup, and be baptised with the baptism that I am baptised with. But to sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.’” (Mt 20: 20-23)
I don’t know what to say about the “seating arrangements” in Christ’s kingdom, because I do not understand such things. But neither did the mother of the sons of Zebedee. So our Lord tells her that she “did not know what she was asking.” She, apparently, envisioned an earthly “kingdom,” in which she wanted to make sure her sons would have top positions. And she approaches Jesus as some merely-human and this-worldly political contender, ready to hand out favors and privilege, at this point, as he was rising to power, to secure the careers of those who had the good sense to kowtow to him now.
But, as Christ points out, His was a kingdom into which we gain entry, and into which He was coming, through the “cup” and “baptism” of the Cross. It is not through our “position,” however high and mighty and honorable, in our earthly existence, – even in the Church, – that we are ensured a “seat” in the heavenly kingdom. No, we “enter” His kingdom by walking the cross-carrying journey, on a daily basis. We continuously die, and live again, in Christ, by following His lead, through our ups and downs. This is our “baptism by blood,” which we all go through, in addition to our “baptism by water and Spirit.”
So let me take up my little cross once again this morning, and face my immediate responsibilities. Let me walk through these responsibilities, rather than avoid them in procrastination, despondency, or denial. Let me open that potentially-troublesome envelope from the bank, or make that phone-call I’ve been putting off, or begin that conversation with a loved one or colleague or boss with whom I’ve been having problems. “Remember me, Lord,” as I take the next baby-step on this journey today, “when You come into Your kingdom!”