29th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B – 2018
FIRST READING Isaiah 53:10-11
The Lord was pleased to crush him in infirmity. If he gives his life as an offering for sin, he shall see his descendants in a long life, and the will of the Lord shall be accomplished through him. Because of his affliction he shall see the light in fullness of days; through his suffering, my servant shall justify many, and their guilt he shall bear.
SECOND READING Hebrews 4:14-16
Brothers and sisters: Since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin. So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.
GOSPEL Mark 10:35-45
James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” He replied, “What do you wish me to do for you?” They answered him, “Grant that in your glory we may sit one at your right and the other at your left.” Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. 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.” Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink, you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; but to sit at my right or at my left is not mine to give but is for those for whom it has been prepared.” When the ten heard this, they became indignant at James and John. Jesus summoned them and said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all. For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
My sisters and brothers in the Lord,
Jesus shows us the way to give glory to the Father: become the servant of all and give our lives for others. Are we willing to do that?
The first reading today is from the Prophet Isaiah. He is very clear that even long before the time of Jesus, a deeply religious person could see that one person could take on suffering for the good of others. And the person who does that will have many come after who are able to live in the light of God. A truly righteous person can offer himself for others and even carry the sins of others in some mysterious way. We see that gift of self-offering clearly in the life of Jesus. We are also called to share in that self-offering.
The second reading is from the Letter to the Hebrews and continues the same theme. We have a high priest who is able to sympathize with our weaknesses because he has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin. There is a lesson here for all of us. Even if we have sinned, we often find that we can sympathize with others and even help others when we have struggle with sin and overcome it in the Lord Jesus. Jesus can help others without sinning. We can sometimes learn from our struggles with sin to offer ourselves for others and to give insight about the struggle with sin.
The Gospel from Saint Mark gives us two teachings. One is about wanting spiritual gifts. Jesus is clear that we can have spiritual gifts. What our role in the final Kingdom of Heaven will be is already prepared. Our role is to do the Father’s will in this life and to trust that what the Father gives us in heaven will be completely wonderful and beyond anything that we can imagine.
Probably many of us never think about our role in heaven or what we will do there. The challenge is simply to love God in this life and leave the future to the Lord. If we follow the Lord Jesus, we will surely suffer. Yet at the same time we will share more intimately in His life. In the life to come, we will not be jealous or even want to be anything other than we are. We will be loved beyond all that we can imagine.
So let us be servants to one another, seeking only to love one another and to do what will benefit the other. Let us walk with Jesus and accept the sufferings that must come if we are truly loving others.
Your brother in the Lord,