A HOMILY FOR THE TWENTY-NINTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – CYCLE”B” – 10/18/15
+ Pax et Bonum. Peace and goodness to you this day!
You know, most of the time, when it comes to our deepest desires and most important goals in life, we learn to be discreet. We’re careful how we go after them, because they are so important to us. This is true of the promotion to that perfect job that we’ve always wanted. Or getting introduced to that perfect woman, or perfect man, that we think we just might want to spend the rest of our life with. Or being able to get in on that really good business deal that could make life for ourselves and our family much better off. We proceed cautiously. We’re careful. And we know that sometimes, when we’re too careful, when we hesitate too long, when we’re too bashful, we can lose out. Sometimes to reach our biggest dreams, we have to bold!
Today, both James and John are bold in what they are asking Jesus. At least in St. Mark’s version of this story, the brothers are asking for themselves. In the other Synoptic Gospels, their Mom asks for them! But today is it all James and John. And they are bold. They are brash, we might say. They know what they want. It is the same thing that the rich, young man from last week’s Gospel, wanted. It is the same thing that St. Peter was concerned about when he brought up everything that they had given up in order to follow Jesus. St. Peter wanted to know what they were going to get for their sacrifice. James and John, the rich young man, St. Peter, ALL OF US want to go to Heaven. We don’t talk about this so much. Many times, we’re not as bold, as James and John are. But isn’t it true that that’s what we want?
I bet, if we could talk to all the people on board that Malaysian Airlines jet that went down into the ocean last year, on their way down, I bet they were thinking about Heaven. And I bet that if we could talk to those who were killed in that bombing in Turkey last week, in the brief nano-seconds between when that bomb went off and when their brains stopped functioning, I bet they were thinking about Heaven. You or I could go to any cancer ward, any oncology unit in any hospital in this country today, and I bet we could find people thinking about Heaven. But you know what? We can’t wait until the end of our lives to think about where we are going when we die. It’s too late. That’s why James and John are gutsy today. That’s why, no matter how crass it sounds, or how politically-incorrect it may have been, or how it may have sounded to the other Apostles, James and John ask their question of Jesus. They want to be in that Kingdom that Jesus is talking about, and they want good seats!
My brothers and sisters, let’s be honest, we WANT to be in that Kingdom! And I don’t know about you, but I’d like good seats too! But today, Jesus is telling us, that it is not just about putting your order in, if we want to be with Him forever in that Kingdom, then we need to serve. We need to serve God and to serve our brothers and sisters, and most especially, we are to serve those in need. As Christians, we have a special obligation to the poor, the lonely, the grief-stricken, the prisoner, the addict, and yes, even to the visitor! Serving by showing hospitality to visitors is also an essential element of our following Jesus!
Are these reading perfect for us this week, or what? This Tuesday, we get a special opportunity to serve thousands of visitors who are coming here to see the relics of our Patroness. We must not forget, that is by our service, by our hospitality in this case, this is a special opportunity to be great in the eyes of God, and to reserve our place in Heaven!
Jesus, Himself, the Son of God, served and cared for others. Jesus even showed hospitality to others during His life. Remember His great concern for the thousands on that hillside the day that He multiplied the fishes and the loaves? If Jesus served, it is natural then, that we too must serve. We must get our hands dirty serving our brothers and sisters every day. And this means, that we can’t be first. God must be first. Others must be second. We are somewhere else down the line.
Let us strive to be great in God’s eyes, and according to God’s measure. We all want to go to Heaven. May be willing to do whatever it takes, to get there!
+ May God bless us, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit… AMEN !!!
St. Maria Goretti… Pray for us !!!