Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Isaiah 53: 10-11; Hebrews
4:14-16; Mark 10:35-45
Father Timothy P. Schehr
His earthly ministry, many people approached Jesus to ask for favors. Some
wanted to be healed of an illness of one kind or another; some wanted to
hear or see or walk; some wanted Jesus to heal others or even raise them
back to life.
this Sundays Gospel, two of our Lords own disciples approach Him
with a request of their own. Because these two, the sons of Zebedee, were
with Jesus as He preached and worked miracles for others, we expect them
to ask for something really significant such as spiritual healing for
themselves. But, what do James and John ask for? They want the places of
honor when Jesus arrives as His hour of glory.
we are honest with ourselves, we must admit to just a little bit of
embarrassment for James and John. After all, how could they do such a
thing? Hadnt they been listening at all to what Jesus has been saying?
their credit, at least James and John understood that Jesus was
establishing a kingdom. Their only fault a major one we must admit
was to think of the kingdom in mere earthly terms. As Jesus must
explain to them, earthly rulers make sure everyone else feels their
authority. But, the kingdom of God is not that kind of kingdom.
James and John are so thrilled at the possibility of sharing earthly
greatness with Jesus that they declare their willingness to drink from the
same cup Jesus will drink from. They believe they are ready to take on any
hardships for their brand of glory. Jesus, of course, is talking about
giving His life for a kingdom that is not of this world. If James and John
had understood this, it is not very likely they would have been so eager
to make this request. In fact, when Jesus does arrive at the hour of His
glory, there are two beside Him, one at His right and one at His left. Not
James and John, but two others crucified with Jesus.
the sons of Zebedee still have a lot to learn about the kingdom of heaven.
We can only imagine the puzzled looks on their faces when Jesus patiently
explains to them whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave
on, after receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit, the apostles understood
the meaning of the kingdom Jesus preached about. And, they understood the
Scriptures that foreshadowed the suffering the death Jesus had to endure.
One of those Scriptures is the first reading for this Sunday. It belongs
to a collection of oracles from Isaiah about the Suffering Servant of God
who gives His life as an offering for sin.
words that are at first startling to hear, the oracle says, The Lord
was pleased to crush Him in infirmity. What kind of God would be
pleased at that? The kind of God who sees the plan of salvation being
fulfilled in the suffering of heavens faithful servant. As Johns
Gospel (3:16) states so well, God so loved the world that He gave His
the second reading, the author of Hebrews finds great comfort in the fact
that Jesus can sympathize with our own weaknesses because He was fully
human, though without sin.
Schehr is a member of the faculty at the Athenaeum of Ohio in Cincinnati.)