29th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B (2021): Is 53:10-11; Heb 4:14-16; Mk 10:35-45
Sunday, October 17, 2021
Homily Notes for the 29th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B (2021): Is 53:10-11; Heb 4:14-16; Mk 10:35-45
· In all 4 Gospels, we can admire the Apostles’ humility in that they did not seek to disguise their weaknesses and shortcomings from the first Christians. The Holy Spirit, who inspired the evangelists to write everything that is contained in the 4 Gospels, wanted to show those times the Apostles were very un-Christian in their thoughts, words and deeds.
· In part, this was to show that those who were once overly ambitious and jealous men trying to one up each other for seats of power would eventually become true pillars of faith, humility and unselfish leadership.
· The transformation of each of the Apostles is a true testimony to the way that God’s grace can work in someone’s soul, reminding us to not be too pessimistic in the face of our own weaknesses and that of others as a sign they are lost causes who cannot change, for as St Paul said “I can do all things in him to who strengthens me”, but only if we are first willing to admit our faults and weaknesses so as to let the Lord into our lives to change us.
· Yet even in their earlier and less than desirable attitudes, the Apostles James and John were still inspiring in the bold request they made to Jesus: “teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.”
· These truly were the Sons of Thunder, whose booming request to be the two most important men in Jesus’ kingdom was not something The Lord quickly dismissed, but made them appreciate just what it was they were asking for, since as St. Teresa of Avila once said “His Majesty knows best what is suitable for us; it is not for us to advise him what to give us, for He can rightly reply that we know not what we ask.”
· Jesus reply was very telling: Can you drink of my chalice? A chalice for the Jewish people was more than just a drinking vessel but a symbol of one’s entire life into which was poured by blessings and sufferings, even curses. Jesus was helping James and John realize that to reign with him was to drink deeply of all that He would endure, from the agony of the Cross to the glory of the Heavenly Kingdom.
· While at that moment they could only see power and glory in their request, over many years of service they would come to know that to reign with Christ was to serve and suffer with Him.
· They no longer desired to proclaim a powerful messianic king who would crush the enemies of their people but a servant king who was long ago foretold by Isaiah as the one who was crushed with pain, who made his life an offering for sin, who would bear the iniquities of all since this Jesus of Nazareth was more than just a king but also the great high priest that the Letter of the Hebrews proclaimed shared in the weaknesses of his congregation, in all things but sin, so that he could be approached as one who was truly humble and gentle of heart.
· The James and John we read in this gospel passage were a far cry from the James and John that tradition tells us would see James travel to what was known as the Finis Terra, the known ends of the world in the NW coast of Spain, to teach others about Christ before He returned to the Holy Land to die as a martyr, but would see his relics taken back to Spain where they are now venerated by countless pilgrims who make the journey to the cathedral of Santiago della Compostella.
· John was said to have lived a very long life, writing a Gospel, 3 NT Letters and the Book of Revelation, and when a very, very old man was asked by his followers what the most important lesson it was that Jesus taught Him, to which it is said the elderly John broke into tears and repeated again and again, to love one other.
· Sts. James and John should be inspirations to you and I that none of us should be marked by our weaknesses and failures in the life of faith. If we can humbly bring these aspects of our lives to the Lord, he can open our hearts to grace, grace to change, to grow, to love and to dispel that taste for sin and vice that only brings with it sadness. They certainly did not experience this change within them in an instance but over many years of knowing blessings and sorrows when placed in the Lord’s refiner’s fire.
· Because we are loved, we can grow in Christ, if are willing to see the growth take place. Let us not be afraid to show him our weaknesses so as to be fortified in his grace.