This weekend we celebrate the 29th Sunday of Ordinary Time.
Our first reading from Isaiah includes four passages called, “The Suffering Servant Songs.” Included in these are those servants, some maned and some not, who have suffered during their life.
God’s voice presents these victims of suffering as his servants who will prosper and be exalted. “It was over infirmities that he bore.” God is pleased with those who in spite of suffering are faithful servants. This, of course, can all relate to how Jesus suffered at the hands of others for our sake. Vindicated by God, Jesus brings salvation to all people.
In our reading from Hebrews, we hear how Jesus, our great High Priest is merciful and just. The high priests of the Old Testament would once a year, on the Day of Atonement, pass through the curtain of the sanctuary into the Holy of Holies. He would intercede on behalf of the people. Jesus is one of us in all things but sin, and understands the difficulties we all face. He suffers for all of us. As the one true High Priest he alone suffers and dies for us and gives us the divine help we need.
In our Gospel of Mark, Jesus has told us that he must suffer, die and rise. He is nearing the end of his journey. The sons of Zebedee seem to be more occupied with their own needs. So, they ask Jesus for a favor. Jesus plainly tells them “you do not know what you are asking.” Jesus uses a metaphor of the cup and baptism to relate to the significance of the sacraments. Jesus reminds them and us that our greatness comes from our sharing in sufferings and hardships of a faithful life. To be a disciple means to be a servant who is willing to give relentlessly. Jesus has already paid the price for us, so we must trust and have faith in his ability to help us overcome the evils of our world in order to gain everlasting life. We are reminded that our call to discipleship may involve pain, suffering and work, but the reward is eternal. Eternal happiness and life in Jesus Christ!