Wis 2:12, 17-20 Jam 3:16-4:3 Mk: 9:30-37
Pope Francis comes to the United States this week where he will address a joint session of congress. I am all excited about it. I ask you all to keep listening or reading all about his visit to our country through live TVs and social Medias. How our world has changed! Some people used to tell me when John Kennedy ran for president people feared that he would listen to the pope. Now the only thing Democrats and Republican agree on is that we need advice from the pope! Well, I hope we will listen to Pope Francis – not in some partisan manner, but with hearts of faith.
Our Bishop Bradley will preside at the Holy Eucharist with families from around the Diocese on Saturday morning, September 26, at 9:15 a.m., at St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Portage, in solidarity with all the families from around the world, who will be gathered in Philadelphia with our Holy Father.
As part of the celebration next week, word was received this week that Pope Francis has granted the possibility of obtaining a Plenary Indulgence for the participants in the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia next week, according to the usual conditions. The Indulgence is also available to those who spiritually join themselves to the gatherings in Philadelphia, which includes our gathering at St. Catherine of Siena, Portage. This beautiful grace being made available for the edification and sanctification of the Church and for each individual member of the Faithful. For more information please follow the link provided in our parish website.
Having said this, let us focus now on our homily today. Remember potato salad and jokes: Tony Campolo, used to say, “If you ever start to feel proud, thinking that you are somebody great, just remember that soon after your body has been lowered into the grave, your family & friends will be eating potato salad and telling jokes, and you’ll be history.”
Jesus was returning to Capernaum after journeying through the Northern Province of Galilee, avoiding crowds and teaching the apostles. Mark presents Jesus as giving three predictions about his suffering and death, one each in chapters, 8, 9 and 10. The response by Jesus’ disciples was horror and disappointment because they had been dreaming of a political messiah who would usher in an earthly kingdom. Hence, in chapter 8, Peter rebukes Jesus for his words. In chapter 9, (the first part of today’s text), an argument arises among the disciples as to who among them is the greatest. In the third passage (in chapter 10), James and John foolishly ask Jesus to give them seats on his right and left, when he comes to power.
The second part of today’s gospel describes Jesus’ return to Peter’s house in Capernaum, where he gives his apostles a picture of what true greatness is. He says “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.” There’s nothing wrong with being ambitious. Indeed, it is good to be ambitious, to have goals, to want to be good at what one does and to succeed in it. But ambition can get out of hand. It can cause us to forget everything else in the pursuit of success in business or in a career. Therefore we must be careful what we are sacrificing in the pursuit of our goals. We may be sacrificing family life, justice, kindness, even life itself. Ambition can cause one to treat others in a cruel or unjust way.
Jesus did not abolish ambition. Rather, he redefined it. He did not tell the apostles that they should not seek greatness in his kingdom. He just showed them where true greatness was to be found. It is not to be found in being the masters of others, but rather in being the servants of others, especially the weaker members of the community.
Jesus wants us all to be down on our knees with a basin of water in on hand and a towel in the other, washing the feet of ‘the little ones’. “When he had washed their feet [and] put his garments back on and reclined at table again, he said to them, “Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do. Amen, amen, I say to you, no slave is greater than his master nor any messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you understand this, blessed are you if you do it.” John 13: 12-17).
Dear friends! I want you to spend this week reflecting what we heard today. What it means to be great in the kingdom of God? What does Jesus wants me to do here and now?