Mk 11:11-26 Give Us What We Want!
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The disciples were on the way, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus went ahead of them. They were amazed, and those who followed were afraid.
I knew a young man that often called me when he needed some help. Often it meant just a word or two of encouragement. It was good to hear his voice, even if it was out of need. He was like a son to me and I was like a Father to him. What I mean by that is he would often ignore the good advice I gave him and proceed to following his own path. While he was in college, he experienced some pretty intense anxiety attacks and I would remind him, over and over again, “Place your trust in the Lord. There is no glory without sacrifice.”
Then the day of his glory arrived. Right before college graduation, he received a phone call to work at a major company. He was thrilled and delighted. Immediately, his status turned from poor college student to wealthy young business man. With that, the phone calls came to an abrupt end. Eventually, I learned he was living with his girlfriend (or she was living with him), and that he was spending his money like a wild man. I found out from his family that he wasn’t going to Church. He was just enjoying his life; the life he had earned all by himself. It was all going great, like a fairy tale, until it all came tumbling down, like a Scripture quote. I never heard from him again until recently.
It is perfectly fine and right to party, especially when someone’s earned it. What’s wrong is to forget; to forget reality; to forget who threw the party. Those who remember are remembered and those who quickly forget are soon forgotten.
Give us what we want. James and John came to Jesus and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” Wow! Moms and dads, imagine for a moment your precious teenage child coming to you and making this request! What would you say? We know what the Lord said. He bit his tongue and said, “What do you wish me to do for you?” He knew what they wanted. It’s what we all want: Heaven without the Passion; glory without sacrifice. These were two very confused disciples. They wanted pure gold without purification; without passing through fire.
We hear it ad infinitum, ad nauseam: “Follow your dreams”, “Be faithful to your heart.” “Just do it.” Blah, blah, blah.
If we followed our hearts and were faithful to our deepest desires, we would be three hundred pounds overweight and living in the living room sitting on the sofa. Who wouldn’t want to hear from their doctor: “Look, you need to sit down more often, watch more TV, eat more desserts, and enjoy more chocolates if you want to stay fit and healthy.” Wouldn’t it be great if to exercise meant to sit down; to work meant to relax? How amazing would that be? Who wouldn’t love it? It would be so easy. It would be like vacationing 48 weeks out of the year and only working for four weeks!
But reality is not what we want; reality is what God has determined for us. We all want a Christ without a Cross. We all want Heaven without the Passion. But the truth is: The Cross comes with Christ. Or better, Christ carries his cross.
Why must everything be a challenge?
Jesus went ahead of them. Have I forgotten that the world is fallen? Have I forgotten that not everything makes sense? Jesus went ahead of his disciples to show them what doesn’t come natural: confrontation with evil. We can’t turn back. We can’t sit still. There is only one thing left to do: GO ON! MOVE FORWARD! Going to Jerusalem is the Lord’s way of saying keep moving. The human person was made to move; to keep moving. It is not necessarily what our hearts desire. It’s not even what our hands and feet are itching for. Most of us do not crave to run a marathon. But it is not a bad thing to do. None of us are itching for a splinter, but a Cross to carry is not a bad thing to bear. Most of us are not begging to serve, but to serve is a reminder of the One who served. The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.
The world is made up of two types of people: those who serve and those who do not. But earthy and heavenly glory is only given to the first.