REFLECTION FOR THE 29TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR B.
Saint Peter’s Square
Sunday, 17 October 2021
Dear brothers and sisters, buongiorno!
The Gospel of today’s Liturgy (Mk 10:35-45) narrates that two disciples, James and John, ask the Lord to one day sit beside him in glory, as if they were “prime ministers”, or something like that. But the other disciples hear it and become indignant. At that point, Jesus patiently offers them a great teaching. It is this: true glory is not obtained by rising over others, but by experiencing the same baptism that He, Jesus, would receive just a little later in Jerusalem, that is, the cross. What does this mean? The word “baptism” means “immersion”: through his Passion, Jesus immersed himself into death, offering his life to save us. Therefore, his glory, the glory of God, is love that becomes service, not power that seeks to dominate. Not power that seeks to dominate, no! But love that becomes service. Thus, Jesus ends saying to his disciples and to us as well: “Whoever would be great among you must be your servant” (v. 43). To become great, you should take the path of service, serving others.
We are in front of two different types of logic: the disciples want to rise up and Jesus wants to immerse Himself. Let us spend a few moments on these two verbs. The first is to rise up. It expresses that worldly mentality to which we are always tempted: to experience everything, including relationships, in order to feed our ambition, to climb the ladder of success, to reach important positions. The quest for personal prestige can become a spiritual malady, masquerading itself even behind good intentions: for example, when behind the good we do and preach, we actually seek ourselves alone and our own affirmation, that is, that we get ahead and climb up, we see it even in the Church… How many times, we Christians – who should be servants – try to climb up, to get ahead. We therefore always need to evaluate our heart’s real intentions, to ask ourselves: “Why am I carrying out this work, this responsibility? To offer service or rather to be recognised, praised and to receive compliments?” Jesus contrasts this worldly logic with his own: instead of exalting yourself over others, get off your pedestal to serve them; instead of rising above others, to be immersed in others’ lives. I was watching on the program A Sua Immagine that service carried out by Caritas so that no one might lack food: being concerned about others’ hunger, being concerned about others’ needs. There are so, so many in need, and after the pandemic there are many more. Seek to be immersed in service rather than to climb up for one’s own glory.
Here is the second verb: to be immersed. Jesus asks us to immerse ourselves. And how should we immerse ourselves? Compassionately in the lives of those we meet. We were considering hunger: but do we think compassionately about the hunger of so many people? When we have a meal before us, which is a grace from God that we can eat, there are people who do not have enough food for the entire month. Let’s think about that. And immerse ourselves compassionately, to have compassion, is not a statistic in an encyclopedia… No! They are people. Do I have compassion on people? Compassion for the lives of those we meet, like Jesus has done with me, with you, with all of us, he drew near with compassion. Let us look at the Crucified Lord, completely immersed in our wounded history, and we will discover God’s way of doing things. We see that he did not remain up above in heaven to look down on us from up there, but he lowered himself to wash our feet. God is love and love is humble, it does not exalt itself, but comes down like the rain that falls to the earth and brings life. But how can we adopt the same direction as Jesus, going from raising ourselves up to immersing ourselves, from the mentality of prestige, worldly prestige, to that of service, Christian service? Dedication is needed, but that is not enough. It is difficult alone, but not impossible, for we have a strength within that helps us. It is the strength of Baptism, of that immersion in Jesus that all of us have already received through grace that directs us, moving us to follow him instead of seeking our interests, but to put ourselves at the service of others. It is a grace, a fire that the Spirit has kindled in us that needs to be nurtured. Today, let us ask the Holy Spirit to renew the grace of Baptism in us, that immersion in Jesus, in his way of being, to be more like servants, to be servants like he has been with us.
And let us pray to the Madonna: she – even though she was the greatest – did not seek to rise up, but was the humble servant of the Lord, and is completely immersed in our service to help us encounter Jesus.
After the Angelus
Dear brothers and sisters,
Today the foundation Aid to the Church in Need has set the date for parishes, schools, and families for the “For unity and peace, a million children recite the Rosary” initiative. I encourage this prayer campaign that has been entrusted to the intercession of Saint Joseph in a particular way this year. Thanks to all the boys and girls participating in it! Many thanks.
Yesterday, in Cordoba, Spain, the priest, Juan Elías Medina and 126 companion martyrs – priests, religious, seminarians and lay people – were killed in hatred of the faith during the violent religious persecution of the 1930s in Spain. May their fidelity grant us all strength, especially persecuted Christians in various parts of the world, the strength to witness to the Gospel courageously. A round of applause for the new Blesseds!
Last week, various attacks took place in Norway, Afghanistan, England, that caused numerous deaths and wounded many. I express my nearness to the families of the victims. I beg you to please abandon the path of violence that is always a losing cause and is a defeat for everyone. Let us recall that violence begets violence.
I greet all of you, people of Rome and pilgrims from various countries. In particular, I greet the “Medee” Sisters who are holding their General Chapter, the Confederation of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux – Poor Knights of Christ, African businessmen gathered for their international meeting, members of the faithful from Este, Cavallino and Ca’ Vio (Venice), and the Confirmation class of Galzignano.
I greet and bless the “Ecumenical Pilgrimage for Ecological Justice”, made up of various Christian confessions, who departed from Poland and are headed to Scotland for the climate summit, COP26.
And to all of you, I wish all of you a good Sunday. And please, please, do not forget to pray for me. Enjoy your meal and arrivederci.
On the Spirit of Service, Humility and Sacrifice
Dear friends, the Church rejoices with the canonization of its new saints, Blesseds Vincenzo Grossi, Maria dell’Immacolata Concezione, Ludovico Martin and Maria Azelia Guérin during the Mass yesterday October 18, 2015 in St. Peter’s Square.
During the homily Pope Francis centered his thoughts on Jesus’ example of SERVICE which is only possible through HUMILITY and SACRIFICE, following Our Lord’s example who came to serve and not to be served and give his life as a ransom for many (Cf. Mk 10:45).
- Jesus’ attitude of service in his life and death was the cause of salvation and reconciliation of man with God and invite us to follow him along the path of love and service, and to reject the worldly temptation of seeking the first place and commanding others.
- Following Our Lord’s example, service is the way for authority to be exercised in the Christian community. This is only possible through the virtue of humility.
- Jesus enjoys dominion because He is a servant, glory because he is capable of abasement, kingship because he is fully prepared to lay down his life.
- A worldly understanding of power, ambition, glory and careerism is incompatible with Christ’s logic which is that of humility, service, compassion and mercy.
Let us ask God through the intercession of the new saints to help us grow in the spirit of service, overcoming our pride and love of comfort, thus imitating Our Lord’s example who came not to be serve but to serve.
Below is the Vatican- provided translation of the Pope’s homily taken from zenit.org (TITLES AND CAPS MINE). Happy reading and a blessed week ahead!
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Today’s biblical readings present the theme of SERVICE. THEY CALL US TO FOLLOW JESUS ON THE PATH OF HUMILITY AND THE CROSS.
- JESUS, AS THE SERVANT OF THE LORD FULFILLS GOD’S WILL THROUGH HIS HUMBLE AND QUIET SUFFERING
The prophet Isaiah depicts the Servant of the Lord (53:10-11) and his mission of salvation. The Servant is not someone of illustrious lineage; he is despised, shunned by all, a man of sorrows. He does not do great things or make memorable speeches; instead, he fulfils God’s plan through his humble, quiet presence and his suffering. His mission is carried out in suffering, and this enables him to understand those who suffer, to shoulder the guilt of others and to make atonement for it. The abandonment and sufferings of the Servant of the Lord, even unto death, prove so fruitful that they bring redemption and salvation to many.
- JESUS’ ATTITUDE OF SERVICE IN HIS LIFE AND DEATH WAS THE CAUSE OF SALVATION AND RECONCILIATION OF MAN WITH GOD AND INVITE US TO FOLLOW HIM ALONG THE PATH OF LOVE AND SERVICE, AND TO REJECT THE WORLDLY TEMPTATION OF SEEKING THE FIRST PLACE AND COMMANDING OTHERS.
Jesus is the Servant of the Lord. His life and death, marked by an attitude of utter service (cf. Phil 2:7), were the cause of our salvation and the reconciliation of mankind with God. The kerygma, the heart of the Gospel, testifies that his death and resurrection fulfilled the prophecies of the Servant of the Lord. Saint Mark tells us how Jesus confronted the disciples James and John. Urged on by their mother, they wanted to sit at his right and left in God’s Kingdom (cf. Mk 10:37), claiming places of honour in accordance with their own hierarchical vision of the Kingdom. Their horizon was still clouded by illusions of earthly fulfilment. Jesus then gives a first “jolt” to their notions by speaking of his own earthly journey: “The cup that I drink you will drink… but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared” (vv. 39-40). With the image of the cup, he assures the two that they can fully partake of his destiny of suffering, without, however, promising their sought-after places of honour. His response is to invite them to follow him along the path of love and service, and to reject the worldly temptation of seeking the first place and commanding others.
3. SERVICE IS THE WAY FOR AUTHORITY TO BE EXERCISED IN THE CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY. THIS IS ONLY POSSIBLE THROUGH THE VIRTUE OF HUMILITY.
Faced with people who seek power and success in order to be noticed, who want their achievements and efforts to be acknowledged, the disciples are called to do the opposite. Jesus warns them: “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant” (vv. 42-44). These words show us that service is the way for authority to be exercised in the Christian community. Those who serve others and lack real prestige exercise genuine authority in the Church. Jesus calls us to see things differently, to pass from the thirst for power to the joy of quiet service, to suppress our instinctive desire to exercise power over others, and instead to exercise the virtue of humility.
4. JESUS ENJOYS DOMINION BECAUSE HE IS A SERVANT, GLORY BECAUSE HE IS CAPABLE OF ABASEMENT, KINGSHIP BECAUSE HE IS FULLY PREPARED TO LAY DOWN HIS LIFE.
After proposing a model not to imitate, Jesus then offers himself as the ideal to be followed. By imitating the Master, the community gains a new outlook on life: “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (v. 45). In the biblical tradition, the Son of Man is the one who receives from God “dominion, glory and kingship” (Dan 7:14). Jesus fills this image with new meaning. He shows us that he enjoys dominion because he is a servant, glory because he is capable of abasement, kingship because he is fully prepared to lay down his life. By his passion and death, he takes the lowest place, attains the heights of grandeur in service, and bestows this upon his Church.
- A WORLDLY UNDERSTANDING OF POWER, AMBITION, GLORY AND CAREERISM IS INCOMPATIBLE WITH CHRIST’S LOGIC WHICH IS THAT OF HUMILITY, SERVICE, COMPASSION AND MERCY.
There can be no compatibility between a worldly understanding of power and the humble service which must characterize authority according to Jesus’ teaching and example. Ambition and careerism are incompatible with Christian discipleship; honour, success, fame and worldly triumphs are incompatible with the logic of Christ crucified. Instead, compatibility exists between Jesus, “the man of sorrows”, and our suffering. The Letter to the Hebrews makes this clear by presenting Jesus as the high priest who completely shares our human condition, with the exception of sin: “We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin” (4:15). Jesus exercises a true priesthood of mercy and compassion. He knows our difficulties at first hand, he knows from within our human condition; the fact that he is without sin does not prevent him from understanding sinners. His glory is not that born of ambition or the thirst for power; it is is the glory of one who loves men and women, who accepts them and shares in their weakness, who offers them the grace which heals and restores, and accompanies them with infinite tenderness amid their tribulations.
Each of us, through baptism, share in our own way in Christ’s priesthood: the lay faithful in the common priesthood, priests in the ministerial priesthood. Consequently, all of us can receive the charity which flows from his open heart, for ourselves but also for others, and become “channels” of his love and compassion, especially for those who are suffering, discouraged and alone.
The men and women canonized today unfailingly served their brothers and sisters with outstanding humility and charity, in imitation of the divine Master. Saint Vincent Grossi was a zealous parish priest, ever attentive to the needs of his people, especially those of the young. For all he was concerned to break the bread of God’s word, and thus became a Good Samaritan to those in greatest need.
Saint Mary of the Immaculate Conception, drawing from the springs of prayer and contemplation, devoted her life, with great humility, to serving the least of our brothers and sisters, especially the children of the poor and the sick.
The holy spouses Louis Martin and Marie-Azélie Guérin practised Christian service in the family, creating day by day an environment of faith and love which nurtured the vocations of their daughters, among whom was Saint Therese of the Child Jesus.
The radiant witness of these new saints inspires us to persevere in joyful service to our brothers and sisters, trusting in the help of God and the maternal protection of Mary. From heaven may they now watch over us and sustain us by their powerful intercession.
[Original text: Italian]
(October 18, 2015) © Innovative Media Inc.
PHOTO CREDIT: in Lotto (photographer), Cristo de los Gitanos (Seville, Spain) http://api.ning.com/files/Vz3BouZ6EYKIsOVydbONjlEIUd46o*LlENClBQ5msm2JMLV32mwciUDfPMlxhD5YD5iczirIthsHzijp2VSDc1F3-lK0x73I/_DSC10429.jpg (Background removed)
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