We have two homilies for 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B.
The first was delivered by Father Hanly then transcribed by us.
The second is a written homily by Father Hanly
which he then delivered at Mass.
One With Jesus
In this excellent homily for 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B, Father Hanly helps us get a feel for what Jesus must have felt on his final journey to Jerusalem.
First Reading: Isaiah 53:10-11
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 33:4-5, 18-19, 20, 22
Second Reading: Hebrews 4:14-16
Gospel: Mark 10:35-45 or 10:42-45
As we come to the end of the church’s liturgical year, this gospel is one of the central gospels and it’s very important to, not only just understand the meaning of it, but also to try to penetrate the mysteries of it, which are always difficult.
But, most of all, it’s to be one with Jesus and get a feel for what he must have felt as he walked the way from the northern part of Israel, all the way down on his final journey to go to Jerusalem.
So I’m going to read first The Third Prediction of the Passion, which comes in Mark’s gospel immediately before the gospel that you’ve just read. But it sets the tone and it gives you a feel of what follows. It goes like this:
“They were on the way, going up to Jerusalem,
and Jesus went ahead of them.
They were amazed, and those who followed were afraid.
Taking the Twelve aside again, he began to tell them what was going to happen to him.
‘Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem,
and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes,
and they will condemn him to death and hand him over to the Gentiles
who will mock him, spit upon him, scourge him, and put him to death,
but after three days he will rise.’”
And now you can see the mood that Jesus must have been in at this time.
He’s trying to tell his disciples that they’re not on a triumphal path to some great victory over the Romans, or whatever it is, of the immediacy of God entering into their history and changing it all in the changing of a flash of lightning.
He is saying, “I’m going there because it’s my Father’s will that I die, but I will rise again.”
And so the gospel says, you notice, “He went ahead of them.” He would go ahead of them and they would walk behind him, because none of them wanted to go up to Jerusalem if the things that he said were going to happen were really going to happen.
And so they were amazed at this sudden change of what the Messiah has come to do, if they could understand it, but they couldn’t really understand it.
And they were afraid, because it made them doubt and it made them feel apart from him, because he alone knew the dreadful end of this journey and what the outcome would be.
And so Jesus must have been very, very alone, and looking for the consolation of the men he loved most, which were especially the twelve, the twelve disciples.
And given this kind of mood, and he was thinking of death, two of them come up to him, two of his very favourites, James and John, the sons of Zebedee. Out of the three favourites, these were two of them.
And instead of consoling him, instead of asking him what he really meant, the gospel tells us, today, they said,
“Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.”
This is like children, you see, children asking their father, “Please, Daddy, do something for us that we really, really want. And if you love us, you will give it to us.”
And then Jesus, very patiently, replied, “What are you asking for?” And then, suddenly,
They answered him, “Grant that in your glory
we may sit one at your right and the other at your left
in the great triumph of the Kingdom,” which they kind of feel is about to come upon them.
And Jesus is so disappointed, because they are thinking of power and glory and praise and all these great, wonderful things, and he is thinking of his own death.
And so he says to them,
“Can you drink the cup that I drink
The cup is a symbol all through the Old Testament, usually given to the Prophets when their destiny is told to them by God. And that destiny involves suffering and pain, and so it is the cup of bitterness.
And then he says,
or be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?”
We think of a little child being baptized, a new life being baptized. But the word baptism means “to be immersed in water.”
And the whole story of baptism is we are immersed and drowned in the waters that we might die to our old lives and be brought up out of the water to live to the new life.
And so Jesus knows that he is going to be baptized means that he must die, but in three days he will rise again.
They say, “We can drink of the cup and we can be baptised with the baptism,” not understanding at all what they are talking about.
But Jesus softens, and he looks at them, and he knows in the future they will return, and he says to them, “Yes, someday, you will have to drink the cup, and, someday, you will be baptised in this kind of baptism.
“But to give you places in heaven, that is not for me to talk about, that is for the Father. It is the prerogative of the Father to speak of rewards, to speak of the things that you are crying out for so much.”
And he says to them…He doesn’t say anything to them, he just sits and stops and talks with them in kind of a silent understanding.
But the other disciples, the other disciples hear about it, and they protest.
Why do they protest?
They are jealous. They, too, want the first places at the table. They, too, want to be honoured. They, too, want power. They, too, are in the competition game. They want to be winners and not losers, finally. They have been losing their whole life and now this man is going to make them winners.
And Jesus listens to them squabbling. These are the men that he’s going to found the Kingdom of God?
These are the men that want the authority of the world. You see, in this life, you do not rise high unless you want power, unless you are somewhat arrogant and forceful. It’s a world in which the authority of the world is based on might and power.
And Jesus is offering the authority of God.
And what is the authority of God?
The authority of God is not in domination. It is not in winning.
The authority of God is in loving. It is in silence. It is in quietness. It is in accompaniment, a quiet presence. It is in listening. It is in caring. It is in accepting.
It is learning how to love the way the Father loves, because the Father is a giver and not a taker. It is learning how to love the way Jesus loves, so great that he will lay his life down for his people.
And this great mystery, that we take so readily today into our own lives, is not understood, or not heard, by the Apostles.
And so it is Jesus comes together and he explains it to them. And he explains it to them in these words:
Jesus summoned them and said to them,
“You 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.”
Why would Jesus follow this way?
Because it’s the way of his Father. There’s an old saying, “Like father, like son.” In this situation, the Son is like the Father.
The Father is the one that we must understand. He is a giver, a lover, who cares for us.
“Where is God?” people say.
God is wherever you want Him to be.
But He comes in silence, and in quietude, and in love, and in caring. And if you listen and listen, you can hear His word.
And if you go out and find the people who need help and who need this kind of love, to be understood, to be cared for, to be respected, to be healed and to be saved, there is where you will find the authority of God.
So on this Missionary Sunday, sometimes we think it is that we are sent out to kind of convince the whole world that we are right and they are wrong, that we have the truth and they don’t.
This is very far, not from the Apostles’ thoughts, but from the thoughts of God.
We are sent into this world to listen and to heal, to care and to reach out. We are, in a word, we are sent into this world to learn how to love, not as men love, to learn how to love as God loves.
And God gives His only begotten Son that he should offer his life that we might understand that God’s love is so great that He gives everything into our hands.
The Suffering Servant of God
Father Hanly’s excellent homily for 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B, is on Jesus, the Suffering Servant of God.
First Reading: Isaiah 53:10-11
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 33:4-5, 18-19, 20, 22
Second Reading: Hebrews 4:14-16
Gospel: Mark 10:35-45 or 10:42-45
As we draw near to the end of the present Liturgical Year, the readings of today take on a new urgency and significance. Today’s first reading from the Book of Isaiah the Prophet begins with the startling sentence: “The Lord was pleased to crush him with suffering.” Isaiah is speaking about the Suffering Servant of God, who gives his life to save his people. And then in today’s Gospel we see Jesus and his disciples on the last leg of their long journey from the north of Palestine to the gates of the city of Jerusalem. It is there that Jesus is destined to suffer and to die.
By way of introduction and, in order to appreciate more fully the depth of meaning of today’s Gospel, I shall begin Mark’s account with the two verses that precede today’s reading for they throw much light on what follows. The Gospel according to Mark, beginning with chapter 10 verse 32.
Mark 10:32 (Jesus and his disciples) were on the road, going up to Jerusalem; Jesus was walking on ahead of them; they were in a daze, and those who followed were full of apprehension. Once more Jesus took the Twelve aside and began to tell them privately what was going to happen to him. He said: “Now we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man is about to be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the pagans, who will mock him and spit on him and scourge him and put him to death; and after three days he will rise again.”
And now you can begin to understand the mood that Jesus must have been in at this time. He was trying to tell the disciples that their journey to Jerusalem was not going to be a triumphal victory march over the Romans, but rather the death of their dreams, for the suffering servant of God the Father will suffer and die for our sins. Jesus was walking on ahead, because they were full of fear and confusion, reluctant to follow, struggling along like defeated men, who barely heard his final promise: “After 3 days I will rise again.”
And now Mark tells us, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, approached Jesus. The brothers were special favorites of his. But if he was looking for sympathy or some compassion from them in this dark hour, he was to be disappointed. “Master,” they said to him, “We want you to do us a favour.” And Jesus said to them: “What is it you want me to do for you?” They said: “Allow us to sit one at your right hand and the other at your left when you come into your glory.”
Such arrogance! Such childishness! Jesus could hardly believe it: “You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I must drink or be baptized with the baptism which I must be baptized? He was referring to his coming Passion and his death. How disappointed in them he must have been. For they, like all the others were thinking not of what they could do for their Lord, but what they could get out of it for themselves. They, too, were agog with thoughts of glory and power, prestige, honor, and praise. But he their Lord and Master was speaking of drinking the cup of bitterness, given to the prophets of old when their destiny is revealed to them by God, a destiny involving suffering and pain, pain and suffering until their final redemption in the arms of God himself.
And what of baptism? Jesus was not referring to the sweet happy event so common in our churches, of a baby bathed in holy water, becoming a child of God and an heir of heaven, in the midst of adoring relatives and friends, but rather something different, very different: the origin of the word baptism means “to be immersed or plunged deep into water.” The symbol is quite violent: to be plunged into the depths of the waters to die to our old lives in order to rise up into a new life with Jesus, our Lord. Jesus’ baptism began with water poured on the banks of the Jordan River at the hand of John the Baptist. But his baptism ended in the garden of Gethsemane when, bowed in prayer before his Father, Jesus accepted the cup of bitterness and was drowned in the blood of the cross.
“Can you do this?” Jesus asked.
“Yes, we can!” the brothers had assured Jesus. And he looked on them and smiled and softened, for he loved them so much he would die for them, and said to the two: “Yes you, too, will one day “drink the cup that I drink,” and be “baptized with the baptism with which I am to be baptized,” and he was speaking of his death, but to sit at my right or my left is not for me to give but for those for whom it has been prepared.”
Now when the other ten heard of this, they became indignant at James and John.
Why? Because they were jealous. They, too, wanted the first seats at the table in the banquet of the Lord. They too hungered for power and praise, for recognition and success. Squabbling over who is to be the first, the best…They were no better than the others. And how was he to build a kingdom on such as these? And so Jesus called them together and summoning them to himself spoke these words:
“My little children, you know that those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles, lord it over them. And their great ones make their authority felt. But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whosoever wishes to be great 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 for all and for everyone.”
Ask yourselves, why would Jesus say these things and follow in such a path? Simply because it’s the way of his Father. There is an old saying: “Like Father, like Son.” And in this case it is true. One day Jesus said to one of his disciples who asked him to show us the Father, and he answered “He who sees me sees the Father.”
We, then, must learn from the Father through his son and understand his ways, for God is a giver, he is a lover and he is the one who cares for us. “Where is God?” people ask. “God is where you and I allow him to be” is the answer. “God is love” we say it all the time. And wherever there is love, you will find him. You will discover him among those who need him, who want him and who welcome him into their hearts.
Today is Mission Sunday. Mission means to be sent. Sometimes we think we are sent out to convert the world, as if we have the truth and the world doesn’t. Such thoughts are far from God. On the other hand, we can say we are sent into the world to learn how to love as Jesus loves, to heal, to care, to reach out to those brothers and sisters in need. In a word, it is we who must learn how to love, for the great mystery of God is not that we serve him, but that it is he who serves us, and his love is so great that he has given everything including himself into our hands.
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Information about Father Hanly’s homilies for 29th Sunday In Ordinary Time, Year B
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If you would like to use our transcripts of either of these sermons (updated 2019), please contact us for permission.
Father Hanly's sermon for 29th Sunday In Ordinary Time, Year B, "One With Jesus" was delivered on 18th October 2009. Father Hanly's sermon for 29th Sunday In Ordinary Time, Year B, "The Suffering Servant of God" was delivered on 21st October 2012. It is sometimes hard to accurately transcribe Father Hanly's reflections, so please let us know if you think we have made a mistake in any of our transcripts, and let us have your suggestions.
We hope that Father Hanly’s homilies, always kind, always wise, always full of love, will restore you to peace and harmony through a new understanding of what is important in this world. We believe these homilies are inspiring for everyone, not only for Roman Catholics or other Christians.