29th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Mission Sunday)
October 21, 2019
Mark 10, 35-45
James and John, the sons of Zebedee, approached Jesus. “Master,” they said to him, “we want you to do us a favor.” He said to them, “What is it you want me to do for you?” They said to him, “Allow us to sit one at your right hand and the other at your left in your glory.” “You do not know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup that I must drink, or be baptized with the baptism with which I must be baptized?” They replied, “We can.” Jesus said to them, “The cup that I must drink you shall drink, and with the baptism with which I must be baptized you shall be baptized, but as for seats at my right hand or my left, these are not mine to grant; they belong to those to whom they have been allotted.”
When the other ten heard this they began to feel indignant with James and John, so Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that among the pagans their so-called rulers lord it over them, and their great men make their authority felt. This is not to happen among you. No, anyone who wants to become great among you must be your servant, and anyone who wants to be first among you must be slave to all. For the Son of Man himself did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
When my cell phone beeps and the notification “message received” pops up, I am alerted that a message has arrived. When I reply and the “message sent” notification is displayed on the screen it means the message went through. Our days are filled with outgoing and incoming messages. We call this communication, whether by telephone, text, e-mails or even routine conversations. Awesomely, this sending and receiving is a beautiful description of our celebration today – Mission Sunday. The evangelist John puts it in a profound but different way when he wrote: “For God so loved the world that he sent his only Son so that all who will receive and believe in him will have eternal life.” (Jn 3:16).
Isaiah in the first reading calls this “the Lord’s will.” It is God’s will too that all who experience love should not keep it to themselves but share it with others. A line of a song aptly echoes this, “Love is not love until it is shared and given.” St. Mark in today’s Gospel makes it even more demonstrative when Jesus gives preference to God’s will as regards to whom the privilege of sitting beside his son-God is allotted. Jesus went on further by making his disciples aware of the essence of following him and the demands attached to it. “For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10,45). We are reminded of a Filipino Jesuit seminarian who was sent as a missionary to Cambodia. One day, a grenade was thrown inside the classroom full of children he was teaching. Before the grenade could explode, the seminarian used his body as a shield leaving every school child unharmed and his body completely blown up to pieces. What a share of baptism he had with Christ.
In our Eucharistic celebration today we honor and recognize men and women of every walk of life who left the comfort of their homes, communities and countries and are serving as missionaries and lay mission collaborators here and abroad. We pray for their safety and for success in their missionary endeavors especially those in difficult situations. As for all of us here, we are missionaries too by virtue of our baptism. Everyone of us has a responsibility to carry to the end Jesus’ mission here on earth. We do that with 3 Ps. First P, Pray for the missions. Second P, Promote missionary vocations. And third P support the mission with our Purses.
When along the way or reaching home and your cell phone beeps and the phrase “message received” or an icon notification pops up, be reminded that receiving Jesus in the Holy Communion you also received anew his missionary mandate. And when your reply and “message sent” notification is displayed, be reminded that Jesus is sending you as a missionary inside and outside your home. Beep! Beep!
By Fr. Emil Pati SVD