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Hear the Word! by Bill Ayres: Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time


A reading from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah
(Chapter 53:10-11)
 
“Because of his affliction he shall see the light in fullness of days: through his suffering, my servant shall justify many, and their guilt they shall bear.” The suffering servant here is not any one person but rather all of the people of Israel who had suffered the exile in Babylon. The prophet sees redemption of many through the suffering of the people.
 
Have you ever thought that your suffering can connect you to those in need of forgiveness? No one of us should ever seek to suffer, but when suffering is upon us we can offer it up for the needs of others for healing and forgiveness while at the same time working for our own healing. Our Father does not inflict suffering on us; suffering arises from the perils of life, and we need to seek healing and freedom from whatever the suffering has brought. However, it is also an opportunity to become connected with all those who suffer, especially someone close to us whose suffering we may have taken too lightly.
 
Responsorial Psalm
(Psalm 33:4-5. 18-19, 20, 22)
 
“Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.” What does it mean to trust in God? Is our trust focused on a specific prayer or request, or is it something that is deep within us, a powerful openness to God’s mercy at any moment and every moment in our lives? A deep enduring trust in God is a gift that no one of us can accomplish by ourselves but only by accepting God’s merciful love.
 
A reading from the Letter to the Hebrews
(Chapter 4:14-16)
 
The author tells us that “we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God…. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weakness, 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.”
 
The message is clearly that Jesus was one of us, and we do not have to be afraid to ask for his mercy and help. Do you think of Jesus that way, as your brother and friend?
 
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Mark
(Chapter 10:35-45)
 
Did you ever think that there were scandalous squabbles among the apostles—selfish outrageous demands of Jesus about who was the greatest? Here we have a big one. “James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus and said to him, ‘Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.’ He replied, ‘What do you wish me to do for you?’ They answered him, ‘Grant that in your glory we may sit one at your right hand and the other at your left.’ Jesus said to them, ‘You do not know what you are asking.’” Then Jesus asked them whether they could “drink the cup that I drink,” meaning his suffering and death, and they said yes. Then Jesus let them know that, indeed, they too would suffer and die, but he would not promise to seat them in places of honor. When the rest of the apostles heard this “they became indignant at James and John.” So, Jesus let them know that “those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles Lord it over them and their great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be so among you. Rather, 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.”
 
Imagine if all of the successors to the apostles, the bishops throughout the centuries—and, for that matter, if all Christians—had followed the command of Jesus and served rather than dominated, listened rather than demanded, and lived the humble and heroic lives that the apostles eventually led. Many have done so, of course, and have been true servants of Jesus and of each other.
 
Excerpts from the English translation of the Lectionary for Mass © 1969, 1981, 1997, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation (ICEL). All rights reserved.
 
Bill Ayres was a founder, with the late singer Harry Chapin, of WhyHunger. He has been a radio and TV broadcaster for 40 years and has two weekly Sunday-night shows on WPLJ, 95.5 FM in New York. He is a member of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in Centerport, New York.

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