October 21, 2018 — Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Our readings today are wonderfully consoling and wildly challenging. If we take them to heart, they just might change our lives. For they should call us to profound gratitude for all that God has done for us and inspire us to live lives of thanksgiving and obedience in response to His overwhelming love and mercy.
The First Reading, from Isaiah, reminds us just how much our Father in Heaven loves us and wants us to be with Him in Heaven — so much that He was “pleased” to allow His Son to be “crushed in infirmity” for our sake and to give His very life as an offering for our sins. “Through his suffering, my servant shall justify many, and their guilt he shall bear.” What profound love this is that Jesus took on our sins, laying down His life to save us. How can I remain indifferent to such love?
The Second Reading, from the letter to the Hebrews, gives further insight into this deep love that our Father, through His son, Jesus Christ has shown us. Such love that Jesus took on flesh to experience all the weakness and frailty of life on this earth — all except for sin. Jesus endured all this so that we could feel close to Him, so that we would not hesitate to approach Him and embrace Him as our own Brother. “For we do not have a high priest who us unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin. So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.” Not only did He come to save us through His suffering, He came to stand with us in our own suffering, offering mercy and help whenever we call upon Him. How can I offer Him my thanks for such love?
In the Gospel Reading, from Mark, Jesus tells us in His own words how we can thank Him and how our lives can reflect greatness in His eyes — we can imitate Him. He tells us “whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all. For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Our God has ransomed our lives. In truth, this “ransom” means our lives are not our own but belong to God. We must do what He asks us to do with them. And He has told us clearly what to do — serve others in love as we have been served in love by Him.
This is why service for the Christian Steward is not an add-on to our already busy lives. It is our life.
Over the course of the next week, take these readings to heart. Reflect on the remarkable love God has shown for you. Then look carefully at your daily life. Is it an imitation of the servant-love of your Brother and Savior? What changes do you need to make, perhaps just in attitude, or perhaps to the trajectory of your life as a whole, to live in grateful service to the One who loves you so?