From the Pastor's Desk
29th Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Today’s Scripture readings describe leadership as the sacrificial service done for others and offer Jesus as the best example. They also explain the servant leadership of Jesus, pinpointing service and sacrifice as the criteria of greatness in Christ’s Kingdom.
The first reading is a Messianic prophecy taken from the Fourth Servant Song in the second part of the Book of the Prophet Isaiah. It tells how the promised Messiah will save mankind by dying in atonement for our sins. Jesus has done this out of love for us, becoming the Suffering Servant crucified as an offering for sin, interceding for us and taking our punishment on Himself.
The second reading, taken from the letter to the Hebrews, tells us that, as God-man and Mediator-High Priest, Jesus has offered a fitting sacrifice to God to ransom us, liberating us from enslavement to sin. In the time of Jesus, ransom was the price paid to free someone from slavery. Sometimes the ransomer offered himself as a substitute for the slave, as Jesus did. The reading also speaks of a High Priest who is able to sympathize with us in our weakness because Jesus has been tested in every way, though sinless, and so we can “confidently” hope for God’s mercy.
Today’s Gospel explains how Jesus has accomplished the Messianic mission of saving mankind from the slavery of sin by becoming the “Suffering Servant.” In the context of the selfish request made by James and John for key positions in the Messianic political kingdom Jesus would establish after overthrowing the Roman rule, Jesus challenged his followers to become great by serving others with sacrificial agape love: “Whoever wishes to be great must be a servant." Jesus commands us to give ourselves to others in loving and humble service, and so to liberat
1) We are challenged to give our lives in loving service to others. As Christians, we are all invited to serve others – and to serve with a smile! We are challenged to drink the cup of Jesus by laying down our lives in humble, sacrificial service for others, just as Jesus did. The best place to begin the process of service by “self-giving" is in our own homes and workplaces. When parents sacrifice their time, talents, health, and blessings for the welfare of others in the family, they are serving God. Service always involves suffering, because we can’t help another without some sacrifice on our part. We are rendering great service to others also when we present them and their needs before God daily in our prayers.
2) We are invited to servant leadership: In order to become an effective Christian community, we need lay leaders with the courage of their Christian convictions to work for social justice. We need spiritual leaders who can break open the Word for us, lead us in our prayer, offer us on the altar, and draw us together as sacrament.