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17th Sunday after Trinity – Are you salty?
Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.
Harvest, at least for the older generation can still evoke some of those long-past, nostalgic memories of long summers, fields ripening in the sun, a time of school assemblies singing hymns, playing conkers in the playground, a time when we felt more at peace with nature, and perhaps as a result, more at peace with ourselves. But now, and only recently, we have frightened ourselves. In our thoughtlessness and arrogance we are swiftly destroying our very home. We once thought ourselves to be master of nature, but now we seem to lack the ability to even master ourselves. What can be done, and who is to do it?
James and John, the Sons of Zebedee, ask Jesus if they might sit at his right and left hand when he comes into his Kingdom. Perhaps they think that Jesus will be crowned King, as rightful heir to David, when they arrive in Jerusalem. But Jesus tells the brothers that they just don’t understand what they are asking. For the challenge he issues; to drink the cup and to be baptised as he is baptised is also a challenge to share in his suffering. That invitation and that challenge is also offered to us, as disciples in our day. The question is: are we prepared to sacrifice for our faith?
A young man runs up and kneels down before Jesus asking him what he must do to be virtuous.
So, Jesus recites to him a number of the great commandments.
“That’s fine” says the young man, “I do all that”.
But with his next question Jesus cuts to the chase, by saying essentially:
‘That’s all well and good’, but how deep does the desire for a righteous life go, how profound is your commitment?
And he puts the young man, and by implication us, to a particularly exposing and shocking test.