Sunday, October 18, 2015

Sunday word, 18 Oct 15

From the Inside
Twenty-ninth Sunday of the Year B (18 Oct 2015)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
I used to wonder at the Zebedee’s sons and their re-quest of Jesus, Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask.” They asked without qualification: demand: do for us whatever we ask. I wondered because I never had the courage to demand my teachers respond to me like that. I also wondered because of the response of the other ten: they felt indignant.

I had the notion that the Twelve enjoyed close bonds as they followed Jesus. I equated following Jesus with friendship. In Jesus’ culture following Jesus—or any teacher—did not ensure friendship. One way to visualize it is links: each disciple had a link to Jesus; James and John also had their family link as sons of Zebedee; they were not closely linked to the others. Their question of Jesus linked the other disciples to each other in a way they may have not been united: they felt indignant at James and John. Feelings of anger, resentment, aggravation and displeasure are not lofty motives; they don’t pave friendship’s way.

If we set aside their feelings, we have our experiences of being linked in ways similar to the disciples. In a classroom the instructor may be the only link some students share. Or a supervisor or employer may link fellow employees. Students and employees may be civil, even kind and respectful; but they need not be friends.

That helps us appreciate the disciples. Like them we Christians to look at Jesus. He responded to James and John as he responded to others who sought his help: What do you want me to do for you? Jesus focused on their question not their motives or their pasts. To borrow an image from the Letter to the Hebrews: Jesus knew every person—each of his disciples as well as each of us—from the inside. No condescension in Jesus’ voice at the question of James and John. He felt their desire as well as their weaknesses and insecurity that drove them to seek places of honor near him.

Feeling with us our weaknesses, that is, knowing us from the inside, lets Jesus mediate for us with God in an unmatched way. To mediate was a key role of the high priest. Our high priest gives us confidence to live the pattern of his life. Living the pattern of his life shows others mercy as we have received mercy. That echoes the Letter to the Hebrews. In gospel language, the pattern of Jesus’ life, is selfless serving. In the words of Jesus’ prayer it is to forgive those who trespass against us.

We never cease to grow into the pattern of Jesus, our high priest. Selfless service; forgiving as we have been forgiven; regular prayer and worship: all are goals of Christian living.  Confidence in Jesus, confidence supplied by Jesus is the grace that fuels Christian living. Because Jesus knows us from the inside and loves us especially in our weaker moments asking each day for grace to confidently live the pattern of his life grows to be our joy. 

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Become aware of the Divine Persons embracing you in love.
  • Ask James and John to present you to Jesus.
  • Chat with him: praise Jesus for dying and rising for you; thank him for sharing our humanity so he may know us from the inside and help us lovingly.
  • Ask Jesus for grace to live the pattern of his life with your life.
  • Close by saying slowly the prayer Jesus taught us. It teaches us to show to others the mercy Jesus works in us.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise


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