Day 15: Wednesday of 2nd week of Lent

Steep road to Jerusalem from Jericho Judean Desert

SERVANT GOD

 

  1. Document: Holy Scripture Readings

1.1.  First Reading: The Book of the prophet Jeremiah 18: 18-20

1.2.  Gospel Reading: The Gospel of St Matthew 20: 17-28

1.3.  Simple Comment: A prophet’s life is called prophetic not only because he prophesies about the coming of a future event in the life of God’s people, more particularly about the coming of the Messiah, but more so because his very life becomes a concretization of the said prediction. In today’s first reading this is well illustrated on how the citizens of Jerusalem contrived a plot to kill the prophet Jeremiah. This event points to the life of Jesus the long-awaited Messiah whose death has been plotted by the men who lived in Jerusalem. For this, we have the Gospel reading today which appropriately narrates that as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem he speaks on how “the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and scribes, who will condemn him to death!”

 

  1. Monument: The Desert Road to Jerusalem

2.1.  The route of Jesus from Galilee to Jerusalem was to go down south by the River Jordan, reach Jericho, an oasis city near the Dead Sea, and then take the road up to Jerusalem. Jerusalem rises up to 800 meters above sea level, while Jericho stands like the surface of the Dead Sea at 400 meters below sea level. Up to Jerusalem is thus correct, since one has to climb a 1.2 kilometer-steep height to reach the holy city at Mount Sion.

2.2.  This desert road is fraught with good and bad people. In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus narrates how a Jew fell in the hands of robbers on his way down from Jerusalem to Jericho. As a businessman he had either a lot of goods that he bought from the city or a lot of money from what he sold in the city. He was left for dead along the road, and there passed along this steep path a priest and later a Levite, both going up to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices. They dared not touch the man because they will be rendered impure and be unworthy to offer a sacrifice in the Temple. It took an enemy to show compassion.

 

  1. Lenten Reflection

3.1.  Jesus goes up to Jerusalem in this narration of St Matthew and it will be his last ascent to the holy city because he was going to be arrested and be put to death on the cross. In this sense, going up to Jerusalem was not simply climbing a 1,200 meter height as he used to do, but Jesus was going to climb up the cross on Mount Calvary.

3.2.  The mother of James and John eagerly requests Jesus to make her dear sons attain the purpose for which they followed all along these years: that once he rises to his kingly throne in Jerusalem, her children will be his closest henchmen! She never understood what she was asking for because she never imagined that Jesus’ throne was the cross.

3.3.  For Jesus it was very clear since he knew fully well what the prophecies were regarding the Messiah. He walked to his death because he walked his talk: “the Son of Man has come not to be served but to serve, to give his life as a ransom for the many.”

 

  1. Contemporary Filipino Question:  It is good to recall how Precious Lara Quigaman clinched the Ms International title. Q: "What do you say to the people of the world who have type-casted Filipinos as nannies?" A: "I take no offence on being type-casted as a nanny. But I do take offence that the educated people of the world have somehow denegrated the true sense and meaning of what a nanny is. Let me tell you what she is. She is someone who gives more than she takes. She is someone you trust to look after the very people most precious to you – your child, the elderly, yourself. She is the one who has made a living out of caring and loving other people. So to those who have type-casted us as nannies, thank you. It is a testament to the loving and caring culture of the Filipino people. And for that, I am forever proud and grateful of my roots and culture."