Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Cup of Discipleship

Mark 10: 35-45
The Highest Places of Honor

Dan Berrigan once remarked, “If you want to be Christian, you better look good on wood.”

In Mark’s Gospel, we are met with the challenge that if you want to be a disciple be ready to have your life turned upside down and inside out, and upside out and inside down! 

 “Discipling” is not an easy process.  It means facing toward Jerusalem with Jesus and letting him be in the lead. 

In today’s (Sunday)  Gospel we meet James and John, also known as the “Sons of Thunder” or affectionately known as the favored sons of Mr. and Mrs. Zebedee.  These men can be described as enthusiastic, eager, zealous, ambitious, future planners, and they have a strong desire to follow Jesus.  But Jesus finds this time a teachable moment.  He says that “discipling” is not about being first, but it’s about being last.  It’s not about having many possessions, but it’s about letting ourselves be possessed by God. It’s not about having positions of power, authority, and honor.  But it’s about putting on an apron and bending down to wash the feet of another.  And in summary, it’s all about drinking of the cup of suffering.

In my kitchen at home, I have a cupboard with cups of many sizes, textures, shapes, and colors. The cups of our experiences in life are of varied sizes, textures, colors, and shapes as well.  So in reflecting further on this Gospel, I invite us to call to mind the many "cups" that we are presented with throughout our lives.

There are cups of compassion, forgiveness, thanksgiving, and blessing.  Can we drink of these cups that are filled with the joyful and sorrowful mysteries that are part of our faith journey?

There are cups of discernment, joy, laughter, friendship, decisions, choices, and beliefs.  Can we drink of these cups knowing that oftentimes we need the gentle support and understanding of another?

Yet, there are more cups that we encounter again and again throughout our short life’s journey:
• The cup of transition . . .
• The cup of walking in mystery
• The cup of embracing our limitations
• The cup of letting go
• The cup of “what will tomorrow unfold”
• The cup of transformation
• The cup of surrender

Henri Nouwen in his book, “Can You Drink This Cup?” suggests three movements, or gestures as to how we might drink from these cups. 

  • The first movement is to HOLD the cup; to welcome it and all its contents into your life.
  • The second movement is to LIFT the cup; to claim all that it holds – the joys, sorrows, surprises, and challenges of our lives. 
  • And the third movement is to DRINK WITH GRATITUDE.  To sip gently as if its contents were a precious liquid.
So what is the Good News for us this week?
Let us be aware of the many cups that are presented to us this week.
Can we hold any cup that is presented us and welcome it?
Can we lift the cup that is presented us and claim its gifts, challenges,  and mysteries?
And can we drink deeply with gratitude of the cups presented us through the happenings of our lives this week?
Jesus asked, “Are you sure you are capable of drinking the cup that I shall drink?”  And the disciples replied, “Sure, why not!”

Artist Unknown

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