The Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time
21 October 2018 at St. Peter the Apostle & St. William Churches in Naples, Fl
Isaiah 53, 10-11 + Psalm 33 + Hebrews 4, 14-16 + Mark 10, 35-45
There is something interesting going on here that takes a little thought and reflection to get straight, but it is really the essence of what Mark is leading us to discover. Simply put: once we know who Jesus is, then we know who we are. To put it another way, once we know what Jesus is, then we know what we are.
This all unfolds in a situation that is too real, too human, and too hard to miss. Those disciples have not yet, even after all this time with Jesus, come to grips with who he is and what he is. Therefore, they have no idea who they are much less what they are. With what can only be called, “Divine Patience”, Jesus goes at it again trying to explain to them what he is doing and what is about to happen. With what can only be described as a chronic hearing impediment, they don’t listen, and they go on blissfully planning a future that could not be more opposite from the future Jesus is putting before them as his option.
The disciples are anticipating and planning for the great and mighty Kingdom they expect from the Messiah. He is telling them he is going to suffer at the hands of the Scribes, Pharisees and the Chief Priest. He tells them he will die which to them must mean they will be on their own. They choose to be deaf to that kind of talk. It does not fit their expectations and what they think they need; so, they go on with their ambitions and lofty expectations. There is a dis-connect here that leaves them ignorant of who and what they are as his disciples. Because they have missed interpreted the signs and wonders he works, they think he is going to be “Jesus fixer”, “Jesus, The Almighty” who will restore Israel to its former glory, and therefore, they will be the privileged and powerful who will feast on the bounty of this reign, and claim a share in this glory.
There is no such Messiah here in Jesus. His Kingdom is not of this world. His mission in this world is simply to live with us, live like us, and even die like we us so that we can rise as he does when called by the Father. He reaches out, seeks out, and embraces those forgotten and left out of life, the sick, the sinner, the lost, the confused, and the doubtful. It is the privilege of our faith in this age to look at this situation and know better without judgement on the poor disciples. Eventually by the power and gifts of the Holy Spirit, they came around and discovered who they were as his disciples and what they were to become.
Finally, with the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, we can discover who we are as Disciples of Jesus Christ. When we know who and what Jesus is, we know who and what we are as Children of God and Servants willing to sacrifice and serve everyone in need. Ambition and power, prestige and privilege have no place among us. Disciples of the real Messiah go about his work looking for the lost, the marginalized, the forgotten, the avoided. Like the Messiah who has come, we can eat with the sinners and saints. We can make welcome those who are different, because we too are different in a greedy, self-centered, power-hungry world. Embracing the full and real identity of Jesus Christ defines who we are and what this world can expect of us. We shall never abandon or ignore the needs of another. We shall stand with them, suffer with them, and wait with them until the Father calls us all to the fullness of everlasting life. We will do this because we know who we are. Let us learn the lesson Mark puts before us today. The Messiah did not come among us to find us work, fix our families, or cure our illnesses and put an end to suffering and death. He came to be with us through these trials and miseries. His disciples, you and me, are witnesses to this truth by the way we care for, support, help, and comfort one another. In this, we shall fulfill the Father’s Will and find everlasting life.