I’m sure you’ve heard the old expression “No good deed goes unpunished.” Ain’t it the truth? Just take a look at the Scriptures. The prophets of old were simply doing what they were told by God to do. It didn’t end well for them. Jeremiah questions God about this in our first reading today from Jeremiah 18. “Must good be repaid with evil that they should dig a pit to take my life?” You’ve probably felt that way before, haven’t you? You do something nice for someone and what do you get? Perhaps anger or resentment that you didn’t do more.
In the Gospel reading today from Matthew 20, the mother of James and John asks Jesus that “these two sons of mine sit, one at your right and the other at your left, in your kingdom.” (Interestingly, in Mark’s Gospel, the mother is missing from the story.) Jesus says to the two disciples, “You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?” How do these two readings relate to one another?
Jeremiah signed on to follow God’s call. He was mistreated, exiled and eventually killed. Most of the prophets found a similar fate. Jesus knew that His disciples would be subject to the same treatment that awaited Him. Thus the question (paraphrased here) “Do you really want to do this?” When we “sign on” to be disciples of Christ, we must know that persecution awaits. It goes with the territory. So, knowing that, are you still in? Because you have to know, none of your good deeds will go unpunished.
Father, give us the courage to persevere in our faith, even though we know that we will be persecuted. Help us to remember that, in the end, it all works out in your perfect will. Amen.
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