Missionaries, whether full-time or part-time volunteers, have a double approach, and their work is often mainly in care for the poor in education, hospital care, work for peace, work among refugees; it is also in introducing the gospel in the spread of the Christian faith, and in developing our young churches. I visited a poor community in north east India for the opening of their church; they had pride in this achievement, and gratitude also for the school and medical centre run by the Church.
Today we salute the missionaries of our country and promise them our prayers, and as we can, our financial support.
‘Sharing the word and celebrating the Eucharist together fosters fraternity and makes us a holy and missionary community’ (Gaudete et Exsultate 142). Pope Francis proposes to us that the whole point of the Eucharist is to make missionaries of us; we are called to be ‘missionary disciples’. Even though we think today especially of those away from home, we want also to fulfil the mission given at the end of every Eucharist: glorify the Lord with your lives. The most important moment of the Mass is when we are sent to our small or big world in the name of Jesus!
“May I give thanks O Lord, for the mission you have given me in life.”
Gospel Mark 10:35-45 The Son of Man came to give his life as a ransom for many
James and John, the sons of Zebedee, approached Jesus. ‘Master,’ they said to him ‘we want you to do us a favour.’ He said to them, ‘What is it you want me to do for you?’ They said to him, ‘Allow us to sit one at your right hand and the other at your left in your glory.’ ‘You do not know what you are asking’ Jesus said to them. ‘Can you drink the cup that I must drink, or be baptised with the baptism with which I must be baptised?’ They replied, ‘We can.’ Jesus said to them, ‘The cup that I must drink you shall drink, and with the baptism with which I must be baptised you shall be baptised, but as for seats at my right hand or my left, these are not mine to grant; they belong to those to whom they have been allotted.’
When the other ten heard this they began to feel indignant with James and John, so Jesus called them to him and said to them, ‘You know that among the pagans their so-called rulers lord it over them, and their great men make their authority felt. This is not to happen among you. No; anyone who wants to become great among you must be your servant, and anyone who wants to be first among you must be slave to all. For the Son of Man himself did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’’
Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, your apostles longed to follow you. You want to show me the difference between earthly and heavenly glory. For you, what matters is not being at Christ’s right or left but sharing in his redemptive work. As I kneel before you today, I want to offer myself and all of today’s struggles and efforts as a sign of my friendship and love.
Petition: Lord Jesus, help me to learn how to be a Christian leader.
Gentile Rulers, AKA, the Bossy Soul: People who “make their authority felt” have a variety of ways to do so. Sometimes they thank you for your good idea and then proceed to tell you why it would never work. Their approach is sometimes subtle — a quiet reminder of potential negative consequences. Other times it can be a shout to help focus attention. We all know people like this, people who boss others around. Maybe we’re even one of them…. Jesus has only one answer for this outlook — his own example: “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve.…” Jesus is Lord, but he wasn’t bossy!
If Not a Gulp, at Least a Sip: For James and John to follow Christ, they will have to “drink the cup” that the Lord will drink. What is this cup? Fast forward to Gethsemane: “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me” (Luke 22:42). Jesus’ own human nature struggled with the implications of full adherence to God’s plan. Ultimately, he would drink that cup — one of bitter suffering, to the very dregs. He called James and John to imitate him. He is inviting us as well. Fortunately, he prepares our souls to be generous. He guides us to greater spiritual maturity, offering us little “sips” from his cup. The small sufferings of daily life purify our souls.
Servant Leadership: Jesus’ life was a “ransom for many.” He was the servant of Yahweh and, as such, he constantly served others in their most profound needs. Jesus met people where they were the weakest: he helped the blind regain their sight, the lame to walk, lepers to be cleansed, the deaf to hear, the dead to rise, and to the poor he preached the good news (Cf. Matthew 11:5). A leader has vision, but unless he is a servant leader, he may see only his vision. We cannot allow ourselves to be out of touch with the needs of those around us. Let us strive to serve others by meeting them on their level.
Conversation with Christ: Thank you, Lord, for this time of prayer. I have seen how you formed James and John. Through humble service of my neighbour, help me to go to the next level.
Resolution: I will perform a hidden act of charity for someone whom I find bothersome.
Friends, all three readings for this weekend centre around a theme that was very familiar to the ancient audiences who first took them in but that is rather alien to us. I’m talking about the theme of substitutionary sacrifice. A very basic problem that we have when we seek to understand this idea is that we are marked, through and through, by a strong individualism: everyone acts and speaks for himself and takes responsibility for his own actions. But ancient people lived within a far more collective or corporate consciousness.