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Jesus’ ‘to do list’ is not always easy

Based on Is 53:10-11; Herb 4:14-16; Gospel of Mark 10:35-45
“We have a great high priest.” (Heb 4:14).

This Sunday’s second reading from the Letter to the Hebrews is one of the most compassionate and encouraging passages in Scripture. We have a high priest – Jesus Christ – who knows and understands our weaknesses and who is able to sympathize with us because he too was tempted throughout his life. The difference is that though he was tempted “in every way,” Jesus never sinned.

He knows about the ups and downs in our lives – about our trials and temptations, our joys and sadness, our pain and suffering, and our successes and failures. Yet, he still loves us unconditionally and will never abandon us.

We can “confidently approach the throne of grace” – the throne of God because Jesus is there, not to punish us or make impossible demands of us, but to intercede for us and shower us with his love, forgiveness, mercy and grace.

In keeping with the readings’ challenging us to selflessly serve others, the Gospel tells us about Jesus dealing with two apostles who are seeking privileged places in Jesus’ kingdom to the exclusion of the other 10 apostles. Needless to say, the 10 are angry and upset. Jesus patiently reviews the basics of discipleship. He says he did not come as a powerful ruler or warrior to be served but as a servant of all people, and gently reminds them, “If you want to be great, you must serve others, too.”

Fast forward to today. In his apostolic letter, Porta Fidei, proclaiming the Year of Faith, Pope Benedict XVI calls us to pass through the “door of faith” (Acts 14:27) that he says is always open. “It is possible to cross that threshold when the word of God is proclaimed and the heart allows itself to be shaped by transforming grace.”

The Holy Father further states, “During this time we will need to keep our gaze fixed upon Jesus Christ, the ‘pioneer and perfecter of our faith’ (Heb 12:2): in him, all the anguish and all the longing of the human heart finds fulfillment. The joy of love, the answer to the drama of suffering and pain, the power of forgiveness in the face of an offense received and the victory of life over the emptiness of death: all this finds fulfillment in the mystery of the Incarnation, in his becoming man, in his sharing our human weakness so as to transform it by the power of his Resurrection.”

Lord, help us to follow you and to serve others.