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29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B – Homily

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
Isaiah 53:10-11
Psalm 33:4-5, 18-19, 20, 22 (22)
Hebrews 4:14-16
Mark 10:35-45
October 21, 2018

When I talked last week about attachments and things we might need to let go of, I mentioned awards.  There is nothing wrong with awards themselves but if we do something just to get an award, we might be prideful.

Today we have James and John seeking places of honor, and not just any honor but to sit on Jesus’ right and left in his glory.  They seek the highest places of honor.  This is a bold request on their part.

When the ten heard this, they became indignant at James and John.”   Of course, one might ask if the ten “became indignant” because they realize this is pride, and, thus, sin or are they are upset because they want the places of honor for themselves?

What would make James and John so bold to make this request?  For one, they do seem to have a “special” status with Jesus.  It was Peter, James, and John who were the only ones to see Jesus’ transfigured.  This would still be pride.

One might ask if they really know what they are asking.  Remember, they were expecting a messiah who would be a great political king and restore the earthly kingdom of Israel.  They see Jesus as that king.

Knowing this is what they are thinking, 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?”  Still not understanding, they respond “We can.”

When Jesus speaks of his baptism, they are probably thinking of his baptism in the Jordan by John the Baptist.  They also probably just take Jesus’ question about drinking the cup at face value.  However, when Jesus speaks of drinking the cup, he is speaking of the cup of his blood of his sacrifice at his Crucifixion.  His act of dying in his Crucifixion is the baptism to which Jesus is referring.

So, in effect, Jesus is asking James and John are they willing to suffer as he will suffer in his Passion.  He has told them about his coming Passion three things but they have yet to understand.

They look for places of honor where others might serve them.  That is not the way Jesus means for it to be.  “Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant.”  Jesus himself is the perfect example of this, “For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.

We too are called to conform our will to God’s.  This means being willing to make sacrifices in serving others.

This Sunday we celebrate “World Mission Sunday.”  When we think of missions, we might tend to think of people going to other places.  We are invited to support the young mission dioceses in Africa, Asia, the Pacific Islands, and beyond through our prayers and our second collection today.

Our Catholic Church has a long history of missions including to our own United States before we were a nation of our own.  Our Catholic Church was also a major player in the development of the early hospitals and universities.  These are just some of the ways we are called as Catholics to serve the needs of others.

Notice I said, “we are called.”  While we might think of missions to foreign lands and the work of hospitals and universities is for those with the proper training, we are all called to serve others and lead them to Christ.

It can be the parents who put their lives on hold to be there for their children’s activities and to teach them to be good people.  It can be the people who work the Community Food Closet to serve the hungry.  There are those help women in pregnancy and caring for the child after it is born.

It might even require real sacrifice on our part.  How might some suffering on our part help others?  The suffering might be not taking as much vacation.  Instead we give the money we would have spent to charity and use the vacation time to volunteer in serving others.

Accepting suffering can also be an opportunity to be a good Christian witness to the suffering Jesus went through for us on the Cross.

James and John looked for places of honor at Jesus’ side.  He called them to serve.  What are you looking for?

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