The first reading is a call to discipleship. Its opening words are, “My son, when you come to serve the Lord, stand in justice and fear.”
The Gospel presents us with a different picture of discipleship. Rather than standing in justice and fear, the Apostles were arguing as to which of them was the greater.
The Lord tells us all if we want to be his disciple we must “Accept whatever befalls us when life is sorrowful, be steadfast.”
Jesus said that like gold we must be tested in fire. That is a common image in the Bible. We have heard it a hundred times. But this time let’s form mental pictures both of the gold refining process and of what it could result in for us.
Let’s say we have a drawer of junk jewelry that might or might not have a bit of gold in it. So, we drop the mess into an iron caldron on the stove, turning the heat way up. After a bit, a dark skin of dye and plastic forms over the surface. Then, it happens! Gold that is purer and brighter than any sun, bubbles up through the dross. Jesus is telling you that hardship patiently endured transforms your character into something as beautiful.