Twenty-Ninth Sunday of the Year Homily

Posted on Oct 23, 2018



21 October 2018


There are days that I think if I had been Jesus, I would have just given up.

It seems so fruitless, so futile, even his friends, the ones he expected to carry on don’t understand.

You see this is the second time the disciples go daydreaming about being on top of the heap.

James and John, the ones who were so excited to join Jesus that they left their father sitting in his boat.

James and John who jump in with both feet before they know what they’re getting themselves into.

By this time in Mark’s story however, they are beginning to check out the future.

“Make us a promise Jesus. Tell us the trip we’re taking with you will be worth it.”

They bargain like anybody else would.

They bargain out of self-interest, personal rewards, and security.

Don’t you think Jesus might have ever thought that he made a few mistakes choosing personnel?

That somewhere along the line he could have done better:

gotten better, gotten brighter women and men, gotten more sophisticated, stronger,

holier people with less faults, and less proclivity to misunderstand.

Don’t you think he might have started with what we call saints?

Minimally, don’t you think after he’d gotten to this point he might have chalked it up to experience

and chucked the whole lot of them and started over?

Jesus apparently didn’t think so, and he didn’t give up on them.

It may have been the wisdom of Jesus to know that’s simply who we are.

When we look at the disciples we look at a mirror and we see ourselves.

We look at a whole bunch of people who never start out as saints,

who often jump into things without understanding what they’re all about,

who often count the cost and try to find the best deal for ourselves.

What changes us into the kind of people Jesus is talking about at the end of this pericope.

Three things I think:

1.  Experience: Each of us has in living enough pain, humility and suffering to mold us into gentler, kinder, more generous people. It’s interesting that Jesus doesn’t give James and John a clear yes or no.

What he does assure them is that they will have the same experience he will have.  Will share in the same “bath,” drink the same “cup.”

2.  The example of others: I’m not sure that anything Jesus ever said–ahead of time, ever changed his disciples.  Clearly this is the second time he has to explain things to them.

But I believe watching him, being with him, they could not help but be affected by him.

I think there are those who are incredibly kind and generous to each of us.  And I think they change us.

3.  Grace: The author of the letter to the Hebrews tells us that in Jesus we have someone who is sympathetic to us, who understands what we go through, and intends to lead us into the Kingdom of God.