Selected Homilies, 2006–2007, Cycle-C

Twenty-ninth Sunday 2006


We want you to do for us whatever we ask. Nice conversation starter! Wouldn’t you love to have been there to see the expression on Jesus’ face when the sons of thunder asked him that question? What do you think? Taken aback, annoyed, rolled his eye, here they go again. Smiling, pained. What expression? You know, the gospel writer Matthew must have been embarrassed by the behavior of these two brothers. He changes he story so the disciples are not put in a bad light, looking pretty bold and brazen. He puts their mother in the middle.  She’s the one who who goes to Jesus and asks (demands the best seats in the house for her boys.) I wonder if Matthew knew my mother. That’s just the kind of thing my mother would do, go right up to Jesus and demand the best seats in the house for her boys.

Of course we can’t know the expression on Jesus face, how he reacted to a question like this but in one sense he should have been ready for it. In this chapter 10 of Mark’s Gospel Jesus is fielding some pretty hard questions. That’s what we’ve been listening to for the past three weeks. Jesus put on the spot with hard questions. Do you remember them? Pharisees, Rich young Man, his own disciples.

But notice the dynamic in all three instances: Jesus listens to the question, better listens to the one who asks the questions, and then invites them to go beneath the surface to a much deeper reality. The Pharisees don’t want to go with Jesus to a place where relationships are . The rich young man doesn’t want to go to a place where he has to let go of all that structures his life, all the possession he has. And the disciples, they think they want to go with Jesus “ Can you drink of the cup” sure we can. Of course they are the ones who will l all desert hum in his hour of need.

Jesus listens to the question, or the questioner, reads the heart of the person and takes them to a deeper place:

What’s the question you would like to ask Jesus?

The question I am asking is Jesus, why do things in life so often “unravel”? relationships between good people, the things in life that we invest ourselves in, our work, our church, our society.

This unraveling question is coming from my own heart. Mom’s situation, mom’s comments:

I think that most of you know my 91-year-old mother. You have seen her here in church looking amazingly well. It seems that my mother after 91 years is beginning to show her age. WE have been told that she meets the criteria for dementia caused by minis strokes and Alzheimer’s. I know that many of you in this congregation have dealt with similar diagnoses of loved ones. Along with the worry that comes with the unraveling of a life and memory, there is also the pain of knowing that a person is no longer her “self”. For example, a neighbor told me that my mom said, “You know, I used to like my children. But I don’t think I like them anymore. They just keep calling and calling and won’t let me alone”. You just can’t win J

Jesus listens

And takes you to a deeper place.

Speaks of his own life, unraveling. His hopes and dreams, everything he has invested in, save God. Ultimately God will be the thread that binds.

Jesus speaks to us of his solidarity with the worlds’ suffering, and our suffering. Jesus takes us to a place where he asks us to bind up wounds, and be there as servants.


Copyright © 2007 St. Ignatius.