Thursday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading I Rom 6:19-23

Brothers and sisters:
I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your nature.
For just as you presented the parts of your bodies as slaves to impurity
and to lawlessness for lawlessness,
so now present them as slaves to righteousness for sanctification.
For when you were slaves of sin, you were free from righteousness.
But what profit did you get then
from the things of which you are now ashamed? 
For the end of those things is death.
But now that you have been freed from sin and have become slaves of God,
the benefit that you have leads to sanctification,
and its end is eternal life.
For the wages of sin is death,
but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Responsorial Psalm 1:1-2, 3, 4 and 6

R.    (Ps 40:5) Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
Blessed the man who follows not
    the counsel of the wicked
Nor walks in the way of sinners,
    nor sits in the company of the insolent,
But delights in the law of the LORD
    and meditates on his law day and night.
R.    Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
He is like a tree
    planted near running water,
That yields its fruit in due season,
    and whose leaves never fade.
    Whatever he does, prospers.
R.    Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
Not so the wicked, not so;
    they are like chaff which the wind drives away.
For the LORD watches over the way of the just,
    but the way of the wicked vanishes.
R.    Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.

Alleluia Phil 3:8-9

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I consider all things so much rubbish
that I may gain Christ and be found in him.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Lk 12:49-53

Jesus said to his disciples:
“I have come to set the earth on fire,
and how I wish it were already blazing!
There is a baptism with which I must be baptized,
and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished!
Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth?
No, I tell you, but rather division.
From now on a household of five will be divided,
three against two and two against three;
a father will be divided against his son
and a son against his father, 
a mother against her daughter
and a daughter against her mother,
a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”

– – –

Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Fire And Division

Peace and harmony, love and unity and every good thing. Isn’t that what we all hope for, what we pray for, what we sing hymns about?  Isn’t that what Jesus came to bring to earth?

Apparently not.

Jesus says he came to bring fire and division. “I have come to set the earth on fire…! Do you think that I have come to establish peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.”

Wait. What?

Fire and division? What kind of fire? What causes the division?

The fire that Jesus wants to set on the earth is not a destructive fire, but a creative fire, the Fire of Love, the Fire that is the Spirit – the Spirit that IS the Fire of Jesus, sent from the Father and the Son. The Spirit that sheds the light of Truth on everything, the Spirit that is the Word that is a Lantern to our path, the Spirit that comes from the Father and the Son and allows God to be “over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:6), the Spirit that consumes everything that is not Love so that Love can reign. The Spirit of Love that draws all souls to the Good, the True, and the Beautiful. That is the Fire that Jesus came to set on the earth, and why he was in anguish; without this spiritual fire, we are dull and lifeless.

And those who choose this Spirit, those who allow themselves to be ignited with the life-giving Love of God, will be opposed by those who do not! Even within families, there will be division because those who resist the Spirit cannot understand those who surrender to the Spirit; those who are living only a natural life cannot understand those who are living a supernatural life. Households will be in disagreement, but the patience of those who are filled with the Spirit can eventually share that radiant joy and love and unity with others!

So, Jesus ultimately DOES want peace and unity, in love. But not a shallow and superficial unity that is no more than mutual tolerance in order to avoid confrontation or authentic conversion. Jesus wants a communion that is true and deep and bubbling up from the Springs of the Spirit, a communion that is only possible when we are whole and free, a communion that it is everlasting.

In this world, that kind of communion will always encounter opposition. It is our task to reach out to the opposition in patience and love, knowing that the Spirit can make all things new. 

Contact the author

Kathryn Mulderink, MA, is married to Robert, Station Manager for Holy Family Radio. Together they have seven children (including Father Rob), and four grandchildren. She is President of the local community of Secular Discalced Carmelites and has published five books and many articles. Over the last 30 years, she has worked as a teacher, headmistress, catechist, Pastoral Associate, and DRE, and as a writer and voice talent for Catholic Radio. Currently, she serves the Church by writing and speaking, and by collaborating with various parishes and to lead others to encounter Christ and engage their faith. Her website is www.KathrynTherese.com

Feature Image Credit: thommas68, https://pixabay.com/illustrations/fire-and-water-hands-fight-fire-2354583/

Wednesday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading I Rom 6:12-18

Brothers and sisters:
Sin must not reign over your mortal bodies
so that you obey their desires.
And do not present the parts of your bodies to sin
as weapons for wickedness,
but present yourselves to God as raised from the dead to life
and the parts of your bodies to God
as weapons for righteousness. 
For sin is not to have any power over you,
since you are not under the law but under grace.

What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law
but under grace?  
Of course not!
Do you not know that if you present yourselves
to someone as obedient slaves,
you are slaves of the one you obey,
either of sin, which leads to death,
or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?
But thanks be to God that, although you were once slaves of sin,
you have become obedient from the heart
to the pattern of teaching to which you were entrusted.
Freed from sin, you have become slaves of righteousness.

Responsorial Psalm 124:1b-3, 4-6, 7-8

R.    (8a) Our help is in the name of the Lord.
Had not the LORD been with us, 
    let Israel say, had not the LORD been with us–
When men rose up against us,
    then would they have swallowed us alive;
When their fury was inflamed against us.
R.    Our help is in the name of the Lord.
Then would the waters have overwhelmed us;
The torrent would have swept over us;
    over us then would have swept the raging waters.
Blessed be the LORD, who did not leave us 
    a prey to their teeth.
R.    Our help is in the name of the Lord.
We were rescued like a bird
    from the fowlers’ snare;
Broken was the snare,
    and we were freed.
Our help is in the name of the LORD,
    who made heaven and earth.
R.    Our help is in the name of the Lord.

Alleluia Mt 24:42a, 44

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Stay awake!
For you do not know when the Son of Man will come.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Lk 12:39-48

Jesus said to his disciples: 
“Be sure of this:
if the master of the house had known the hour
when the thief was coming,
he would not have let his house be broken into.
You also must be prepared,
for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”

Then Peter said,
“Lord, is this parable meant for us or for everyone?”
And the Lord replied,
“Who, then, is the faithful and prudent steward
whom the master will put in charge of his servants
to distribute the food allowance at the proper time?
Blessed is that servant whom his master on arrival finds doing so.
Truly, I say to you, he will put him
in charge of all his property.
But if that servant says to himself,
‘My master is delayed in coming,’
and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants,
to eat and drink and get drunk,
then that servant’s master will come
on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour
and will punish the servant severely
and assign him a place with the unfaithful.
That servant who knew his master’s will
but did not make preparations nor act in accord with his will
shall be beaten severely;
and the servant who was ignorant of his master’s will
but acted in a way deserving of a severe beating
shall be beaten only lightly. 
Much will be required of the person entrusted with much,
and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.”

– – –

Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Being Prepared

“You also must be prepared for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”

Spending five months recently in my parents’ apartment as a caregiver has given me a deeper insight into this Gospel. 

We are told to wait expectantly for the Master’s return, to be alert to that moment when the Lord Jesus will return to take us into eternity, as well as to the moment when Christ the King will return in glory on the last day.

Be alert and at work, treating others justly and doing your duty. He whom the Master finds conducting himself in this way will be rewarded. 

For all of us, those last 10 or 15 years waiting for the Master’s return are definitely times of being alert. Alert to one’s own changing issues around health and that of the loved one we may be caring for. Alert to insurance issues and long-term care preparation. Alert to the questions surrounding the time to begin nursing home care, move someone into memory care or arrange for at-home care. Rather than “staying awake” these years can be filled with sleepless days and nights where we toss and turn from exhaustion, worry, financial concerns, wondering how do we best love. We could find ourselves overwhelmed with the love we are trying to show our spouse and the feelings of grief and guilt, and just feeling we are not-enough for the daily multiplying needs…. Our own and others…

Jesus says that he will come at a moment we don’t expect, and yet we spend YEARS preparing for it on every level. Years of love, of service, of suffering, of surrender, of doing to Jesus what we are doing for another. Jesus’ coming is not tomorrow or next year. He comes suddenly and unexpectedly into our midlife and aging lives TODAY. He comes not to check up on us. No. In the struggle of these aging-years, struggles that seem to just compound over time, Jesus is gathering us to himself, through the tender endless acts of love rendered at every moment to each other, to spouse, parent, child, relative…. “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world…. Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me“ (See Mt. 25:34-40). 

Contact the author

Sr. Kathryn J. HermesKathryn James Hermes, FSP, is the author of the newly released title: Reclaim Regret: How God Heals Life’s Disappointments, by Pauline Books and Media. An author and spiritual mentor, she offers spiritual accompaniment for the contemporary Christian’s journey towards spiritual growth and inner healing. She is the director of My Sisters, where people can find spiritual accompaniment from the Daughters of St. Paul on their journey. Website: www.touchingthesunrise.com Public Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/srkathrynhermes/ For monthly spiritual journaling guides, weekly podcasts and over 50 conferences and retreat programs join my Patreon community: https://www.patreon.com/srkathryn.

Feature Image Credit: Sabine van Erp, Pixabay.com

Memorial of Saints John de Brébeuf and Isaac Jogues, Priests, and Companions, Martyrs

Reading I Rom 5:12, 15b, 17-19, 20b-21

Brothers and sisters:
Through one man sin entered the world,
and through sin, death,
and thus death came to all men, inasmuch as all sinned.

If by that one person’s transgression the many died,
how much more did the grace of God
and the gracious gift of the one man Jesus Christ
overflow for the many.
For if, by the transgression of the one,
death came to reign through that one,
how much more will those who receive the abundance of grace
and the gift of justification
come to reign in life through the one Jesus Christ.
In conclusion, just as through one transgression
condemnation came upon all,
so, through one righteous act
acquittal and life came to all.
For just as through the disobedience of one man
the many were made sinners,
so, through the obedience of the one
the many will be made righteous.
Where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more,
so that, as sin reigned in death,
grace also might reign through justification
for eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Responsorial Psalm 40:7-8a, 8b-9, 10, 17

R.    (8a and 9a) Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.
Sacrifice or oblation you wished not,
    but ears open to obedience you gave me.
Burnt offerings or sinofferings you sought not;
    then said I, “Behold I come.”
R.    Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.
“In the written scroll it is prescribed for me,
To do your will, O my God, is my delight,
    and your law is within my heart!”
R.    Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.
I announced your justice in the vast assembly;
    I did not restrain my lips, as you, O LORD, know.
R.    Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.
May all who seek you
    exult and be glad in you,
And may those who love your salvation
    say ever, “The LORD be glorified.”
R.    Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.

Alleluia Lk 21:36

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Be vigilant at all times and pray
that you may have the strength to stand before the Son of Man.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Lk 12:35-38

Jesus said to his disciples: 
“Gird your loins and light your lamps
and be like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding,
ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks.
Blessed are those servants
whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival.
Amen, I say to you, he will gird himself,
have them recline at table, and proceed to wait on them.
And should he come in the second or third watch
and find them prepared in this way,
blessed are those servants.”

– – –

Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Vigilant Waiting

Do you ever have those days when you wish Jesus would return – now? The world often seems like it is permanently opposite day where right is wrong, up is down and near is far. And in these verses of Luke, we hear another opposite posed to us, with a caveat. If the master returns and the servants are doing as they ought to be doing, they will be waited upon by the master.

Jesus is turning people’s world upside down. He is showing us in this passage that when he comes, life will be different. Indeed, he showed us this in his public ministry, yet many chose not to believe, not to follow him. Jesus turned the world upside down; his passion, death and resurrection allow us to know, love and serve God and one day enter heaven.

Do we allow Jesus to turn our world upside down? That’s a serious question. To me, it means, have I given all to him, have I surrendered? One day, while contemplating Scripture, I wrote, “to know Christ is above all things so that losing all things does not matter.” Okay, not the best grammatical sentence, but when I came across it again, I realized that is a spiritual goal for me. He is above all things, all people – Jesus is the Master. And yet, if we are doing the work we are created to do when Jesus comes, we will be waited on by him. 

When we contemplate what our own vigilant waiting looks like, it helps to remember that whatever we give up for Jesus we receive back more than we can imagine. It may not be here in this world, but it will be given to us when we need it the most. In God’s time. And so now we wait on God’s perfect time, for Jesus to return. We do not know when, but let us keep our eyes on the Lord and our minds, bodies and souls alert in vigilant waiting, out of our great love for God. 

Contact the author

Deanna G. Bartalini, is a Catholic writer, speaker, educator and retreat leader. She is the founder of the LiveNotLukewarm.com community, a place to inform, engage and inspire your Catholic faith through interactive Bible studies, courses and book clubs. Her weekly podcast, NotLukewarmPodcast.com, gives you tips and tools to live out your faith. At DeannaBartalini.com  she writes about whatever is on her mind at the moment.

Feature Image Credit: Jeanne Rouillard, https://unsplash.com/photos/txVwsCuWC94

Feast of Saint Luke, evangelist

Reading I 2 Tm 4:10-17b

Beloved:
Demas, enamored of the present world,
deserted me and went to Thessalonica,
Crescens to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia.
Luke is the only one with me.
Get Mark and bring him with you,
for he is helpful to me in the ministry.
I have sent Tychicus to Ephesus.
When you come, bring the cloak I left with Carpus in Troas,
the papyrus rolls, and especially the parchments.

Alexander the coppersmith did me a great deal of harm;
the Lord will repay him according to his deeds.
You too be on guard against him,
for he has strongly resisted our preaching.

At my first defense no one appeared on my behalf,
but everyone deserted me.
May it not be held against them!
But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength,
so that through me the proclamation might be completed
and all the Gentiles might hear it.

Responsorial Psalm 145:10-11, 12-13, 17-18

R.    (12)  Your friends make known, O Lord, the glorious splendor of your Kingdom.
Let all your works give you thanks, O LORD,
    and let your faithful ones bless you.
Let them discourse of the glory of your Kingdom
    and speak of your might.
R.    Your friends make known, O Lord, the glorious splendor of your Kingdom.
Making known to men your might
    and the glorious splendor of your Kingdom.
Your Kingdom is a Kingdom for all ages,
    and your dominion endures through all generations.
R.    Your friends make known, O Lord, the glorious splendor of your Kingdom.
The LORD is just in all his ways
    and holy in all his works.
The LORD is near to all who call upon him,
    to all who call upon him in truth.
R.    Your friends make known, O Lord, the glorious splendor of your Kingdom.

Alleluia See Jn 15:16

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I chose you from the world,
to go and bear fruit that will last, says the Lord.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Lk 10:1-9

The Lord Jesus appointed seventy-two disciples
whom he sent ahead of him in pairs
to every town and place he intended to visit.
He said to them,
“The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few;
so ask the master of the harvest
to send out laborers for his harvest.
Go on your way;
behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves.
Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals;
and greet no one along the way.
Into whatever house you enter,
first say, ‘Peace to this household.’
If a peaceful person lives there,
your peace will rest on him;
but if not, it will return to you.
Stay in the same house and eat and drink what is offered to you,
for the laborer deserves payment.
Do not move about from one house to another.
Whatever town you enter and they welcome you,
eat what is set before you,
cure the sick in it and say to them,
‘The Kingdom of God is at hand for you.’”

– – –

Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

We Belong To The Lamb Who Was Slain

Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves….

Lambs among wolves. The image is frightening. I ask myself, “Why lambs?” There are plenty of other vulnerable animals that could be prey for wolves that Jesus could have used in these instructions to the 72 disciples as they departed on their mission. But Jesus chose to send his disciples out as lambs into the mouth of danger. 

Living as a Christian is risky. Just before sending out the seventy-two, Jesus had foretold his own death and resurrection (9:21-22, 44-45), and he had told his apostles that they would bear a cross and lose their lives (9:23-25). We as Jesus’ followers belong to the Lamb who was slain (Rev 5:12), the Lamb who was led to the slaughter and opened not his mouth (Is 53:7), the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (Jn 1:29), the Lamb without blemish or spot (1 Pt 1:19).

In a video as Afghanistan was falling to the Taliban, a tearful Afghan Christian pleaded with Christians around the world not to forget them. Andrew Boyd, spokesman for Christian rights organization Release International, claimed that the Taliban have been “searching door to door” for Christians. Foreign church leaders fled the country and Afghan Christian leaders’ activities were closely monitored by the Taliban. Amid all the bad news for Afghan Christians, Shoaib Ebadi, an Afghan-Canadian Christian and executive director of Square One World Media, told Voice of the Martyrs Canada that he sees “good news” for Afghan Christians. “The good news is that Afghan Christians are now leading these groups [small house church fellowships]. They are meeting in their homes, risking their lives every day … taking God’s Word to the people of Afghanistan. And they are the ones sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with their neighbors, families and friends.”

Behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves….

The defenseless lambs are sent out as he himself was sent by the Father. In the words of Catherine of Siena: “We are of such value to God that he came to live among us … and to guide us home. He will go to any length to seek us…. We can only respond by loving God for his love.”

“I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture” (Jn 10:9). Lambs are free from burden or concern about going the right way, for they look to the One who is “The Way” to lead them to salvation.

“I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly” (Jn. 10:10). Lambs have no power to force things to happen according to their own plans. In fact, this power to manipulate and overpower leads away from true life. The abundant life Jesus came to give us is received always as a gift, and comes to us unexpectedly under circumstances that would seem least opportune.

“I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (Jn 10:11). Lambs are often carried in the arms of the Good Shepherd to protect them on their way. And when they are lost he will find them and bring them back to the flock at the cost of his own life.

When he has driven out all his own, he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice” (Jn. 10:4). Lambs simply keep their gaze on the Shepherd and abide wherever he leads them, wherever he is. They know that if they are where he is, no matter how risky it is, they are safe.

Contact the author

Sr. Kathryn J. HermesKathryn James Hermes, FSP, is the author of the newly released title: Reclaim Regret: How God Heals Life’s Disappointments, by Pauline Books and Media. An author and spiritual mentor, she offers spiritual accompaniment for the contemporary Christian’s journey towards spiritual growth and inner healing. She is the director of My Sisters, where people can find spiritual accompaniment from the Daughters of St. Paul on their journey. Website: www.touchingthesunrise.com Public Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/srkathrynhermes/ For monthly spiritual journaling guides, weekly podcasts and over 50 conferences and retreat programs join my Patreon community: https://www.patreon.com/srkathryn.

Feature Image Credit: Cathopic, marthaartess

Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading I Is 53:10-11

The LORD was pleased
    to crush him in infirmity.

If he gives his life as an offering for sin,
    he shall see his descendants in a long life,
    and the will of the LORD shall be accomplished through him.

Because of his affliction
    he shall see the light in fullness
        of days;
through his suffering, my servant shall justify many,
    and their guilt he shall bear.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 33:4-5, 18-19, 20, 22

R. (22)    Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.
Upright is the word of the LORD,
    and all his works are trustworthy.
He loves justice and right;
    of the kindness of the LORD the earth is full.
R. Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.
See, the eyes of the LORD are upon those who fear him,
    upon those who hope for his kindness,
To deliver them from death
    and preserve them in spite of famine.
R. Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.
Our soul waits for the LORD,
    who is our help and our shield.
May your kindness, O LORD, be upon us
    who have put our hope in you.
R. Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.

Reading II Heb 4:14-16

Brothers and sisters:
Since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, 
Jesus, the Son of God,
let us hold fast to our confession.
For we do not have a high priest
who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses,
but one who has similarly been tested in every way,
yet without sin. 
So let us confidently approach the throne of grace
to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.

Alleluia Mk 10:45

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Son of Man came to serve
and to give his life as a ransom for many.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mk 10:35-45 or 10:42-45

James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus and said to him,
“Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” 
He replied, “What do you wish me to do for you?” 
They answered him, “Grant that in your glory
we may sit one at your right and the other at your left.” 
Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. 
Can you drink the cup that I drink
or be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” 
They said to him, “We can.” 
Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink, you will drink,
and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized;
but to sit at my right or at my left is not mine to give
but is for those for whom it has been prepared.” 
When the ten heard this, they became indignant at James and John. 
Jesus summoned them and said to them,
“You know that those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles
lord it over them,
and their great ones make their authority over them felt. 
But it shall not be so among you.
Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant;
whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all. 
For the Son of Man did not come to be served
but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

OR:

Jesus summoned the twelve and said to them,
“You know that those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles
lord it over them,
and their great ones make their authority over them felt. 
But it shall not be so among you. 
Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant;
whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all. 
For the Son of Man did not come to be served
but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

– – –

Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Serving God

The Apostles seem to often spend their time with Jesus confused. Jesus, however, does not hold this against them. Instead, he takes every opportunity to teach them, and help them through their humanity in various ways! One of His most powerful teachings resides in the following: “Whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all. For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

In today’s First and Second Readings, we see that through Christ’s obedience, He has obtained for us everlasting mercy. Christ can understand our weaknesses as He has undergone the same tests and has prevailed.

To unconditionally serve one another is the essence of true love as Catholics. As stated in Mk 10:38-39, “The chalice that I drink…you will be baptized”. Just as Christ suffered, his followers would suffer for their faith in him. (CCC 536, 618, 1225). This is particularly relevant for those in religious life, since bishops and priests possess authority given to them by Christ, but their authority is based on becoming a servant to everyone. I think the same is true in families though, through the love of a spouse, parent, or child. Ultimately, this life of service is exemplified in every action of Christ.

In chapter 10 of the Gospel of Mark, James and John ask to drink from the same cup as Jesus. To others, this may seem like the opposite of wanting to serve; it appears they are seeking power above others. It is boldness, to ask for something they don’t yet even understand. Yet at the same time we can admire the sons of Thunder as they turn to Christ and speak their prayers with infinite trust. 

Are we running to Jesus with all of our innermost questions and concerns? Let us pray ambitiously, ask clear questions, and our answers may be clearer. May we ask with full trust in God and be not afraid.

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Dr. Alexis Dallara-Marsh is a board-certified neurologist who practices in Bergen County, NJ. She is a wife to her best friend, Akeem, and a mother of two little ones on Earth and two others in heaven above.

Feature Image Credit: Aaron Burden, https://unsplash.com/photos/lPCu8HnGU2E