“Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?” Jesus asks this question of James and John in Matthew’s gospel. This line brings me back to when I was assigned as an assistant priest at St. Mary’s Church in Canandaigua.
The pastor had ordered a year’s worth of wine for the church. And by ordering that much we were given an extra case at no cost, thinking it was the same as the other cases. It wasn’t. It was a case of the various wines that they sold to churches. Reds, whites and anything in between.
I remember at daily Mass we would use the wines from that extra case. Some days I would take it and it would be syrupy sweet. Other days it would be pucker your cheeks sour. Some days...bone dry! Some days I liked it. Some days I didn’t. Yet, I reminded me of that line, and I can hear Jesus continue on: “If you are going to drink of this chalice of mine, don’t be surprised if there are days that it is easy and smooth to drink, and other days when it is bitter and dry. That’s life, my friend. You will have days that will give you great energy, life and will taste great! And you will have days that will challenge you and taste bitter. Yet, both come from the same chalice. The chalice of life. In the end, all of it is nourishing and meant to feed you. Let them do that. Because it’s not so much about the taste as what is truly being given to you. My life and love poured out for you so that you may have life, and abundantly!”
Isn’t life truly like that? There are days that are easy to swallow and days that are not. However, aren’t all of these days meant for our growth - emotionally and spiritually? They are given to us with the nourishment that will help us grow, become, and maybe even flourish!
For my ordination, my parents gave me a chalice with their wedding bands on it. Looking at those rings reminded me of the great sacrifice and love that they experienced, and that they gave to me. It reminded me of how life is to be drank in that way, and how it’s not really about the taste. It’s about how we receive that nourishment from the cup of life, and then pour that out in service and love to the rest of the world.