The Responsorial Psalm is an act of trust in God in the face of opposition and danger: "Save me, O Lord, in your steadfast love!" (Psalm 31).
In Jeremiah 18: 18-20 people are plotting against Jeremiah although he has done nothing but good for them. And he is outspoken to God about it: "Is evil a recompense for good? Yet they have dug a pit for my life. Remember how I stood before you to speak good for them, to turn away your wrath from them."
Being good does not keep us from being persecuted. There doesn't have to be a valid reason for people to attack us. But we need a reason - one which Jeremiah didn't really have yet (see verses 21-23) - to forgive those who re- turn evil for good. And this is the lesson we learn from Jesus. It is a shocking one.
In Matthew 20: 17-28 Jesus tells his disciples (for the third time) that he is going to save the world, not by overcoming his enemies with force, but by enduring what they do to him and loving back. He will love them as they crucify him. And God will save him, but not by saving his life. His enemies' plot against him will succeed - at least as they understand success. Jesus will triumph by something beyond their comprehension. He will triumph by rising from the dead to continue his saving work in the world by living and acting with, in and through all who accept by Baptism to be his body on earth.
But for this to happen, his disciples must accept to put on the mind of Christ. They must turn away from power and prestige. Those who are given authority in his Church must refuse to be treated with more respect, as if they were more important than others. "You know that those who exercise authority among the Gentiles. make their importance felt. It cannot be like that with you." In the Church dignity must be divorced from function: no one is to be considered "higher" or "lower" because of a position, office or role. Present practice not- withstanding, in the Church greatness will be expressed and recognized in service, not through titles or protocols that mimic the pecking-order codes of corporations and politics.
Jesus' response to his two disciples who wanted high position in the Church was, "Can you drink of the cup I am to drink of?"
That says it all.
Initiative: Be a disciple. Take seriously Jesus' words: "Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." Be uncomfortable with any signs of special respect given to you because of your rank or position.