Mk 10:35-45 “The cup that I drink, you will drink.” What did that cup like, what did the sons of Zebedee see and what do I see? To me the cup is a chalice of gold. It is ornate and venerated. Is that what those disciples saw? What did they see as the kingdom that Jesus preached, and how did they expect to see that kingdom unfold. Sensibilities over the centuries change. I have read of the ancient views of heaven and earth, and their views of God and man. Heaven and earth, separated by a barrier. Distant. Entry into the kingdom? For some, it occurred at a specific time and place. To those few entry was sudden. They followed their Messiah to a location, and the kingdom magically appeared. They were granted salvation, and their enemies were destroyed. Many that followed that type of prophet were slaughtered by the Roman army when their messianic vision did not pan out. Occasionally today we read of cults that expect this type of kingdom to appear. Those cult members typically follow a charismatic leader to their death. They drink a magic potion expecting salvation. Is that what the sons of Zebedee expected? Did they expect to be handed a chalice of gold? They knew Jesus, they knew what he preached, but they could not peek into the future.
That cup, what is it and what does it hold? That cup can start with the cup of the Sabbath, and according to prescription it is filled to a set volume and till it overflows. That acknowledges the abundance of God’s blessings on His people. The cup holds a portion, an allotment, and a substance. That substance, at Sabbath, is joyful. It is a cup of wine. At Christ’s baptism, it is His mission, our salvation. Wine turned to blood, blood turned to wine. Destruction and death to salvation and life, and salvation through death. They were about to enter into Jerusalem, they expected that Chalice of gold. Were they yet prepared on how they were to receive it? They have not yet witnessed the crucifixion, and yet they were quite possibly expecting the Ascension, and their own Assumption into the kingdom. They did not yet understand their portion and their cup. They knew what they wanted, they were unsure of what they had to do.
Christ told them. “The cup I drink you will drink.” They do have a role in Christ’s kingdom, but they do have to share in His portion. They are called to service. The cup is poured out for their salvation, but they also are called to service. They are handed a Chalice, and they are called to drink its portion. Entry into that kingdom will be granted, but it is far from automatic. It requires effort. Salvation, and redemption, confession and conversion.
They had not yet fully experienced what that cup held, they have not yet experienced the cross of Christ and this conversation prepares them for that event. The cross will be revealed as the tree of life.”For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many” This is a new testament, and a new covenant. At the Cross their lives will be changed. At first, they wish to deny that Cross, but they will come to understand it and they will come to understand what that cup holds. They will grow from sitting at the right and left of the Messiah, too picking up their crosses and following Him. Can you drink the cup that I drink or be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” They said to him, “We can.”
I see this scriptural passage in context of the Mass. They have heard the scripture read, and they have heard the homily. Now they prepare to move from pulpit to altar, from the liturgy of the Word to that of the Eucharist. This walk is their introduction. A Mass unfolds.
Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time