Celebrate Sunday Mass - 10.17.21

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10/17/2021 (9 months ago)

By Deacon Keith Fournier

October 17, 2021 -- 29th Sunday of the Year 2021

Dear Catholic Online Community and Catholic Online School students...


The readings from the Scriptures, as always, offer so much for us to reflect on. It is helpful to pray through them and reflect upon them.

Our first reading is taken from the Hebrew Scriptures, the Old Testament Book of the great Messianic Prophet Isaiah. The portion we heard is a part of what are called the "suffering servant" passages. The Holy Spirit, speaking through the Prophet Isaiah, was foretelling the coming of Jesus Christ, the Messiah. He was the suffering servant. 

Our second reading is an excerpt from the New Testament Letter to the Hebrews. It tells us that Jesus Christ, the suffering servant foretold by Isaiah, was and is also the Great High Priest who became like us and understands us. He offered Himself on our behalf. He came to serve and gave His Life as a ransom for many. 

The Gospel appointed for this 29th Sunday in Ordinary time, is St. Mark's account of James and John seeking a privileged position at the right hand and left hand of the Lord when He returns in glory. Jesus uses this encounter to teach us all that, like Him, we are called to serve. 

James was the son of Zebedee and the brother of John. He was one of only three of the disciples of Jesus to experience both the Transfiguration and the Agony in the Garden. He certainly came to understand, along with his brother John, "Son of Thunder" (Matt. 4:18-21, Mark 3:17) the cost of true discipleship.

James, like the Lord whom he served, learned to serve and to give his life for others. According to tradition he preached the Gospel in Spain as well as in Judaea and Samaria. On his return to Palestine in the year 44 AD he became the first Apostle to suffer martyrdom. The word martyr means "witness".

Each of us is called to a life of witness wherein we are configured to the character of Jesus Christ. Each of us is, in our own way, invited to drink from the chalice of the Lord. We are constantly called to enter His pattern of surrendered love; to walk this way with Jesus, who, in His Sacred humanity, teaches us that the path to our own transformation comes through picking up the cross and following Him. 

We will suffer and struggle in this life. We will experience pain. The real question becomes, will we join it to the suffering of Christ? 

Saint Jose Maria Escriva once wrote "The great Christian revolution has been to convert pain into fruitful suffering and to turn a bad thing into something good. We have deprived the devil of this weapon; and with it we can conquer eternity."

How do we treat those circumstances that cause us to struggle? How do we deal with what we find unpleasant? Do we practice an "adult" form of avoidance and run, acting as if it will all just go away like when children cover their eyes? Or do we believe that even unpleasant things and "difficult" people can be gifts from the hands of a loving God who invites us to walk in the way of His Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?

Yes, He was Divine, and, because of that, He alone could do for us what we could not do for ourselves, restoring through His passion and death the broken relationship between God and the people whom He fashioned for love and communion. With His outstretched arms on the Cross of Calvary, He bridged the gap between heaven and earth. In His triumph over death, he defeated the last enemy and began the new creation.

In His Sacred humanity Jesus shows each of us how to live our own lives differently. We are invited to greet and embrace even that which we do not want. We have been given the grace to accept difficulties, which, when embraced in love, can become a path to our continuing transformation in Him.

The author of the letter to the Hebrews wrote "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin." (Hebrews 14:15) The Christian tradition insists that even undeserved and unmerited suffering, when joined in love to the sufferings of Jesus Christ, can produce extraordinary fruit within us and around us. 

This is the mystery of suffering and struggle in the Christian life.

Jesus invited James, the Son of Thunder, to drink from His Chalice. Let us decide today to make the choices in our own daily lives to drink from the chalice, saying as we do "not my will but yours be done" When we live and love this way, the very people and circumstances that once seemed to be so difficult can become the path to true freedom.

May the lord bless you and your family on this Lords Day.

Deacon Keith Fournier
Dean of Catholic Online School
Chaplain of Your Catholic Voice Foundation

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