Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)
In today’s world, we clearly observe the following tarnished situations, and they seem to be the order of the day:
1. Many people seek power and strive to stay in power, if possible, for life, because:
a) power allows them to dictate what they want;
b) power allows them to manipulate facts and people for their own convenience; and
c) power makes others subservient for the sake of being felt by their inferiors.
2. Many people accumulate wealth and attempt hard to keep it for themselves for life because:
a) wealth can make them comfortable enough with convenience to do and acquire what they like, and overlook others who have to work hard for their daily subsistence;
b) wealth gives them access to amenities and services that ordinary people cannot have; and
c) wealth allows them to indulge in selfish pleasures that may particularly be displeasing and unacceptable to society.
This was also the situation that the apostles were facing. In fact, James and John approached Jesus to request Him that they be able to sit one at His right and the other at His left in His Kingdom. But “you do not know what you are asking,” Jesus said. Jesus was preparing them to witness His greatest act of sacrifice for the salvation for all. Jesus was then teaching them the following:
1. Humility. The apostles had to realize that they were chosen, not just to enjoy the conveniences of life only because they were with Jesus, but they were to be sent throughout the world to preach the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of love.
2. Obedience. The apostles would realize that obedience was the mark of being followers of Jesus. In contrast with seeking power which allows them to seek their own ways, they would preach to the whole world that obedience to the commands of God would be the means to salvation, to wisdom and to growth in the life in and with Jesus.
3. Servanthood. The apostles would realize that to follow Jesus was to undergo His suffering, and that this suffering would not be meaningless, but a powerful manifestation of God’s glory for the salvation of the world. In fact, the apostles had to suffer martyrdom just like their Master. They would also realize and teach the world that to be great in the Kingdom of God is to anticipate and serve others’ needs as duty and love for neighbor rather than as favor.
When athletes train for competitions, they are served while being trained, hopefully, to be on the advantage. We, Christians, also need to train to compete against the acts of the devil and the distractions of the world. We also need to be helped so that we can have the advantage over the evil one. And to be trained in God’s ways we need the following:
1. A life of prayer. We always hear the saying “first things, first.” When we love a person we spend time with him/her, a lot of time, and whenever possible, for life. If we love God we would spend a lot of time with Him in prayer and focus our attention on Him. To be with God and to be united with Him is to abandon ourselves to Him wherever we are and whatever we do so that He can work in us.
2. Love for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Everyone wants to be forgiven, but not everyone wants to come to the Sacrament. A real Christian goes against the tide of self-seeking ways. In this Sacrament, we seek the mercy of God. God is merciful, and He forgives. This is a way of the Church: to seek forgiveness from God through the blessing of the priest, and this leads to reconciliation with God and with the whole Church.
3. Frequent reception of the Eucharist. If we as Christians have to go against the tide of self-seeking ways, we need the strength of God; and we get this strength from the Eucharist, who is Jesus Himself, the life of the world. The Eucharist, as a memorial and celebration of the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus, is a way of combating our self-centered ways.
4. Love for Mary, the Mother of Jesus and Mother of the Church. We dedicate this month of October as the month of the Rosary. To pray, to meditate and to contemplate the Mysteries of the Rosary is to be drawn to the Blessed Trinity, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. As the letter to the Hebrews tells us, “let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help” (4:16).
As we celebrate the Eucharist, let us commit ourselves again to the Lord, and allow Him to rule over us and be our strength and security in our relationships, responsibilities and endeavors.