Reflections on the Readings
Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time - October 18, 2009
Twentieth Sunday After Pentecost - Year B
By Dennis Hankins
For the Son of man also came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many - Jesus
Properly harnessed, it can serve one well.
Unleashed and people are seen as a commodity to be used, relationships embraced only when convenient, and behavior that is ordinarily understood as lewd and unseemly now is chic and daring. Ambition!
The crucifix is a reminder, albeit graphic reminder that to lose our life is to find it. It teaches sacrifice. It teaches humility. It teaches forgiveness. It confronts the self serving attitude of our heart and persuades it to be open, compassionate, and inviting.
It must have been one interesting day when James and John requested the best seats in the Kingdom. Ambitious fellows, they thought they had better get in while the getting was good.
"Teacher, we want you to do something for us."
"What do you want me to do for you?" Jesus asked.
By this time everybody was listening.
"We want you to grant to us to sit, one at your right hand and the other at your left, in your glory."
I can imagine the looks of the others with their wrinkled brows asking, "And just who do you think you are?" Nothing was said. Their expressions said it all. The ten were indignant with James and John.
It hadn't been too long ago when the twelve were debating about who should be the greatest. The message about becoming as a little child had not taken hold. So now Jesus explains. Not just to James and John, but to all of them. Jesus explained, "You know that those who are supposed to rule over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you."
It shall not be so among you. Jesus opens up our minds as he did the twelve to the meaning of being one with him. "The cup I drink and the baptism with which I am baptized, are you able to participate in these things?" Jesus asked. "Oh, yes, we are able," said James and John.
Jesus looks beyond them for a moment as he gazes upon the distant cross in his future. The cross, that baptism and cup, a total immersion and participation in the needs of humanity.
For us men and for our salvation, he came down from heaven, states the creed.
And then he looked upon the fledgling Church in the twelve before him, knowing that they and countless thousands after them would endure government and its laws against them, the mouths of lions, the bullets and bombs of terrorists; faithfully accepting the baptism and the cup, growing in union with Jesus, for the life of the world, not to be served but to serve.
"For the Son of man also came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
To serve. To give. To be a ransom for many. If we could but wake up every morning knowing the destiny of souls may rest on us. That some weary, worn, wayward heart might find her way back home to the heart of Jesus, just because we entered the day as a servant.
Not whining about, "What's in it for me?" but rejoicing that like Jesus, my life, my talent, my gifts, my expertise, my ability, my heart, my ear, my prayer, daily serving, always giving, becoming a ransom for someone, somewhere, for another.
On this World Mission Sunday, isn't time for us to pray, "Revive us again, O' Lord?"
How may I help in the harvest of men and women, boys and girls, finding the Church, receiving mercy, helping them find grace to help them in their deepest need?
How might we find the opportunity to fill our part of the world with the kindness of God?
How will we from this day forward accept our mission to serve, to give, to be a ransom for many?
Indeed may God revive us with a new Pentecost, of holy fervor and holy prayer and holy sacrifice. That we through a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit, may go into our communities on the mission of serving, giving, being the very face of Jesus!
Let us pray: Dear Father, you gave us all you had in the gift of your Son our Savior. Help us to be his face, his hands, his voice by the power and might of the Holy Spirit. Amen.