October 14, 2015 // Uncategorized

True discipleship achieved by relying on God’s help

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Mk 10:35-45

The first reading for this weekend is from the Book of Isaiah, precisely from its third and last part.

Isaiah on several occasions describes, or refers to, a loyal and devoted servant of God who endures outrageous insults and severe misfortunes but never despairs or rebels against God as these unhappy events come to him.

Furthermore, through, and from, these sufferings, good prevails. It prevails in the servant’s own faithfulness, and the glory of God shines through all that happens.

While these verses were written many years before Christ, pious Christians always have seen in them a prefigurement of their gentle Savior, the innocent lamb of God, sinless and merciful, good and perfect, but the victim of viciousness and of the indifference of so many.

As its second reading for this weekend, the Church presents a selection from the Epistle to the Hebrews.

Typically throughout Hebrews, the epistle is strong in its Old Testament imagery, especially in the symbolism of the ancient rituals of the Jewish temple.

In 70 A.D., the Romans destroyed the temple, as a reprisal after the Jews unsuccessfully attempted to revolt against Rome. The priests were killed or scattered. The old rituals came to an end. They have not yet been restored.

For centuries, however, including the first two-thirds of the first century A.D., these ceremonies, in which priests, a high priest, sacrifices and victims of sacrifices appeared.  These rites of the temple were familiar to young and old, great and small, among the Jews.

With all this in mind, Hebrews not only chronicles Jewish custom and history, but it sees Jesus as the great high priest. The perfect sacrifice is the Lord’s sacrifice on Calvary. He is the victim, offering true reconciliation with God.

The reading reminds us that Jesus, the Son of God, also was human as are we. He never sinned but was tempted. He loves us. He understands us.

In St. Mark’s Gospel reading, two Apostles, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, approached Jesus. The forecasts by Jesus of the coming of a new kingdom to the world, namely the kingdom of God, spurred their ambition. They wanted preferred treatment, misunderstanding the true meaning of the kingdom of God.

Presuming it has earthly properties, they want to have privileged places in this coming, glorious kingdom, so they asked the Lord to give them these high places.

Jesus replied, reminding them that the path to the new kingdom will be neither swift nor smooth. To progress along this path, any disciple must identify with Christ in the fullness, abandoning self, self-interests and comfort to be as Jesus was, giving all in sacrifice to the glory of God.


The Lord came into the world as the Redeemer. His mission was to redeem, or rescue, humanity from its own plight, a plight created by its willful sin and voluntary rejection of God.

This sin has disordered and weakened human nature, producing death and despair, yet so often sin reigns supreme in the world.

To follow Christ with sincerity means the determination to be true to God despite human weaknesses pointing the other way, requiring an utter rejection of sin and absolute turning to God.

For limited human beings, this rejection is not easy to accomplish. Temptations are many and strong. We live in a world in which sin is strong, and sinners are many. It is a world with little love, and with little justice.

We must swim upstream. We achieve true discipleship only by seeking, and relying upon, God’s help. If we ask for it, God’s help will come. He never fails.

First of all, we must renounce sin and all that this renunciation entails, and critically we also must admit our own weakness.

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