A couple of weeks ago Father Hokamp preached about Jesus as the G.O.A.T. (Greatest Of All Time). Jesus tells his disciples and us in today’s Gospel how to share in his greatness: “[W]hoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all.” Referring to himself, he tells why he is the G.O.A.T.: “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 now know what he meant whenever we look at a crucifix. When James and John were asked whether, in their desire to be given the places of honor in Christ’s kingdom, they could drink the cup he would drink or be baptized with the baptism with which he would be baptized, they certainly did not know what he meant when they answered, “We can.” He had just explained to them that “the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and hand him over to the Gentiles who will mock him, spit upon him, scourge him, and put him to death, but after three days he will rise.” (Mark 10:33-34) It is this cup of suffering that Jesus, during his Agony in the Garden, would pray the Father to take away (cf. Mark 14:36) but which he would accept as the Father’s will.
Perhaps James and John were only thinking of Jesus’ saying that he would rise after three days, forgetting about the suffering and death he would first endure. This reality is anticipated in Isaiah’s prophecy in today’s First Reading about the servant who will justify many through his suffering, the innocent suffering for the guilty. In today’s Second Reading the letter to the Hebrews interprets Jesus’ suffering as a priestly act: a sacrifice, a sacrifice of expiation that takes away sin. It is that once-and-for-all sacrifice that is depicted by the crucifix and is made present in every celebration of the Mass. The promise of the crucifix and of the Mass is future glory: life with God forever in heaven.
The road to future glory is not an easy one. Baptized into Christ’s Body, the Church, we have to know that there can be no glory without suffering. The lives of the martyrs, whether ancient or contemporary, are reminders of this. In last Sunday’s Gospel Jesus promised persecution to those who would give up everything to follow him. Nevertheless perseverance in faith promises the reward James and John were seeking, as expressed in today’s Responsorial Psalm: “See, the eyes of the Lord are upon those who fear him, upon those who hope for his kindness, to deliver them from death.”
This is why today’s Responsorial Psalm refrain is an apt title for today’s reflection: “Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.”
Next Sunday is World Mission Sunday. There will be more to say about this next week. There is an envelope for this collection in your envelope packets and there are envelopes also available in both churches for those who need them. Please be generous in support of the Church’s missionary effort throughout the world.
October is the month of the rosary. Try to gather the members of your household together to pray it on a regular basis. Continue to pray the rosary this week for the legal protection of the right to life, for vocations to the priesthood and religious life, and for those preparing for marriage. Pray for good weather for the fall harvest and for the safety of all working to bring it in; and, as always, pray for peace.
May God bless his people with peace.