The cup that I must drink you shall drink, and with the baptism with which I must be baptised you shall be baptised (Mark 10:39)
It’s pretty obvious in this Gospel reading that Jesus is making it very clear to his apostles that following him will not lead to earthly glory and power and riches. Oh no, though they do not understand it yet, they will have to suffer what he will suffer. And sure enough, as tradition tells us, almost all the apostles were indeed martyrs for their belief in Christ.
But here’s a strange thing. Look at the language Jesus uses: you must drink the cup that I drink and be baptised with the same baptism. It seems odd language. Not you must suffer as I will suffer - but by sharing in the baptism and the eucharist you will not receive power and comfort, but suffering and sacrifice.
How often do we think of the sacraments in this way? Rarely I guess. People see receiving communion as a routine way of taking part in the mass, and we think of baptism as a necessity and a right, not a commitment. People often approach the Church seeking baptism for a good family celebration, or as a matter of course, or even to make sure of a place in a good school. Catholics who never come to mass expect their children to be baptised just as they were, to make their first holy communion and confirmation just as they did - and perhaps we should be thankful.
But how often do we, do they, understand baptism, or the receiving of communion, to be the embracing of a way of life, united with Christ, which is the surrender of one’s self, commitment, and sacrifice?
Picture: Mark Chagall The Sacrifice of Isaac http://tinyurl.com/9vs793u