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Bulletin: October 21, 2018

Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today we continue our reflection on the meaning of wisdom and riches in our lives. Isaiah reminds us that the Suffering Servant (whom we identify with Jesus) was powerless and offered his life for our sins. Jesus is the richness we seek. The psalm reminds us that even through suffering, Jesus was not alone and neither are we. Jesus waited and so must we. Hebrews also acknowledges the loneliness of waiting and Jesus’ understanding of our weakness. Mark again makes these reflections real with the story of two brothers with great ambitions but little understanding of the real cost of their request to sit at the right hand of Jesus in glory. Jesus responds by reminding them that power within the reign of God is service, not authority. Jesus, and any who would follow him, gives his life for others.


The readings today emphasize that power and privilege are very different in the reign of God than they are in the world. Isaiah reminds us of the suffering, the affliction, the powerlessness of the Suffering Servant who gave his life for our sins. The Psalm and Hebrews describe the loneliness and fear of waiting for the coming of God’s reign in a world that values power over service and sacrifice. The readings remind us to rely upon God in a world that mocks sacrifice for the unworthy and the weak. Mark describes the ambitions of the apostles, James and John, who had the arrogance to ask for positions of power and privilege. The other ten apostles became indignant when they heard this because of their own ambitions to hold positions of power, authority, and glory. Jesus’ response contrasts how power and authority are used in the world and how they are used in the reign of God. Jesus understands that power is service and sacrifice in God’s world.


In today’s readings we see the stark contrast between the world that reflects human values and a world that reflects God’s values. Who among us does not long to have more control, more power over our own lives? Who among us does not wish for the comfort of privilege, the ease of authority, and the pleasure of being served? Few if any would forsake power, privilege, control for the opportunity to serve. Of course, we all think that we would use our power justly, wisely, generously; but unless our power is rooted in service and sacrifice, it will always be misused. Jesus makes clear that until we understand that sacrifice and service are at the root of real power, we are unworthy of the mantle of authority.

Today’s Readings: Is 53:10–11; Ps 33:4–5, 18–19, 22; Heb 4:14–16; Mark 10:35–45 [42–45]

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