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TO SIT AT HIS RIGHT AND AT HIS LEFT WHEN HE COMES INTO HIS GLORY

TO SIT AT HIS RIGHT AND AT HIS LEFT WHEN HE COMES INTO HIS GLORY

(A biblical refection on THE 29th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME [YEAR B] – 21 October 2018)

Gospel Reading: Mark 10:35-45 

First Reading: Isaiah 53:10-11; Psalms: Psalm 33:4-5,18-19,20,22; Second Reading: Hebrews 4:14-16 

The Scripture Text

And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to Him, and said to Him, “Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask of You.” And He said to them, “What do you want Me to do for you?” And they said to Him, “Grant us to sit, one at Your right hand and one at Your left, in Your glory.” But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what You are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” And they said to Him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; but to sit at My right hand or at My left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” And when the ten heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John. And Jesus called them to Him and said to them, “You know that those who are supposed to rule over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of man also came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:35-45 RSV)

In today’s Gospel, James and John ask Jesus if they could sit at His right and at His left when He comes into His glory. Like many of the Jews of that day, these two brothers were expecting a political/military Messiah through whom God would defeat their enemies, conquer the world, and establish a Kingdom of justice and peace (that’s what they meant when they talked about Jesus coming into His glory).

The seats on either side of the royal throne were places of honor the king reserved for the prime minister and the prince successor. Those who sat in these seats were in a very powerful position because, unlike everyone else who had to request a special audience with the king and perhaps wait days or weeks for the opportunity to talk to him, they merely had to lean over and whisper in the king’s ear. Therefore, we can conclude that James’ and John’s request to sit at Jesus’ right and left was nothing less than a bold attempt to gain power by trying to get Jesus to guarantee they would occupy the places of honor when He, the Messiah, established His Kingdom. There are two explanations why James and John thought they deserved special treatment.

Scripture scholars believe James and John were probably part of Jesus’ inner circle of disciples because whenever the Gospels list the twelve apostles,, they always name Peter first and James and John second and third. It seems like Jesus favored these three apostles and even allowed them to witness events the other apostles did not (e.g. the transfiguration and when Jesus brought a little girl back to life).

According to three of the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), James and John were fishing with their father Zebedee and the hired hands when Jesus called them to be His disciples. Zebedee’s fishing business must have been providing him with a comfortable living if he was able to employ not only his own sons, but others as well. Therefore, since James and John were from a more financially prosperous family than most people, including the other apostles, they may have thought they were better and deserved special honors.

Tradition tells us all of the apostles were martyrs except John. However, today’s Gospel ends with Jesus predicting that John, too, will die for his faith. Was John a martyr or did he live to a ripe old age? No one knows for sure.

The apostles experienced petty jealousies and they competed for Jesus’ attention and approval. Jesus told them not to worry about who was the greatest but to focus on serving others.

(Adapted from Jerome J. Sabatowich, Cycling Through the Gospels – Gospel Commentaries for Cycles A, B, and C, pages 214-215.)

Prayer: Lord Jesus, we hereby commit ourselves to You, to love one another sincerely, to serve one another humbly, as You have loved and served us. Amen. 

Jakarta, 19 October 2018 

A Christian Pilgrim

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SIN AGAINST THE HOLY SPIRIT

Today’s Gospel Reading: Luke 12:8-12 – TWENTY-EIGHTH WEEK OF THE YEAR: Saturday, 20 October 2018 

The unforgivable sin against the Holy Spirit is the basic sin against the light. This is the sin for which every person, whether a believer or not, can be liable. Jesus states that those who consciously deny Him before men and do not repent will be denied by Him before the Father in heaven. Those who have argued against Christianity can find forgiveness in God’s time under the usual conditions.

But this sin against the Spirit in which we deny the very light within us is spiritual and moral suicide, because we asphyxiate our own conscience. Such a sin, by definition, cannot be forgiven.

We can reject all the gifts given us by God and still be forgiven. But to deny our conscience and intellectual ability to recognize truth is the single sin that irreparably destroys our link with God. It is the single, fatal defiance.

Jakarta, 20 October 2018

A Christian Pilgrim

 
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Posted by on October 20, 2018 in TODAY'S THOUGHT 2018

 

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THE HYPOCRISY OF THE PHARISEES

Today’s Gospel Reading: Luke 12:1-7 – TWENTY-EIGHTH WEEK OF THE YEAR: Friday, 19 October 2018

Jesus  cautions His disciples to be wary of the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. Such synthetic religiosity cannot be hidden forever. Like yeast, it will show itself sooner or later. Such theatrical religion cannot  save, transform or give meaning to suffering. Our relationship to God is the most serious relation of our life and not a game. This is the sense in which we are told to fear the Lord. We know that God’s will shall be accomplished in one way or another. He is not deceived by those  who go through the motions and language of religion. We can fool a pastor, bishop or Pope; we cannot deceive the Lord.

Our interpretations of this Gospel passage will vary. That God sees into our hearts can be a source of magnificent comfort with the realization that despite our imperfection, He sees our true motives. It can also be a source of great terror if the public honors us as incarnating a holy ideal and all the while we know that God sees right through our image to the real state of affairs within our heart.

This is God judgment: We will live with our real self for eternity!

Jakarta, 19 October 2018

A Christian Pilgrim

 
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Posted by on October 19, 2018 in TODAY'S THOUGHT 2018

 

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JESUS WARNS SOME PHARISEES

Today’s Gospel Reading: Luke 11:42-46 – TWENTY-EIGHTH WEEK OF THE YEAR:  Wednesday, 17 October 2018

The dinner party continues to go to pieces. Jesus deprecates the the Pharisees’ insistence on tithing grain, fruit and even garden plants with extreme meticulousness while they neglect justice and love. Their spiritual energies are misdirected.

A lawyer interrupts Jesus to suggest that He is speaking in such sweeping generalizations that some people might think that He is referring to the lawyers as well. Jesus turns on him to say, “Woe to you lawyers!” They laid an increasing number of burdens on people, snowballing religious conventions, expanding simple laws and placing their byzantine interpretations on the same level as revelation.

There are hierarchies of  truth and traditions. It is important to go back to the well in prayer to regain perspective.

Jakarta, 17 October 2018

A Christian Pilgrim

 
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Posted by on October 17, 2018 in TODAY'S THOUGHT 2018

 

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SAINT TERESA OF AVILA, Virgin & Doctor of the Church – Memoria: 15 October

This feast is celebrated with much greater vigor in Spain than in other places. Teresa was a Carmelite nun in the 1500’s who established a strict, reformed branch of her order – the Discalced Carmelites (OCD). Her efforts with John of the Cross at reform were hindered by the pervasive laxity and politicking that pervaded Spanish religious orders at the time.

In 1970, Pope Paul VI named her a Doctor of the Church. Her spiritual writings, especially the INTERIOR CASTLE, are classics, psychologically perceptive and profound. She is a master of the spiritual life.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, You sent Saint Teresa of Avila to be a witness in the Church to the way of perfection. Sustain us by her spiritual doctrine, and kindle in us the longing for true holiness. We pray this in the most precious name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Jakarta, 15 October 2018

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Posted by on October 15, 2018 in READ & PRAY, SAINTS WE LOVE

 

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SELL what you have, GIVE to the poor, then FOLLOW Me: 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time [Year B]: Mark 10:17-30

Jakarta, 14 October 2018

A Christian Pilgrim

 
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Posted by on October 14, 2018 in MISCELLANY

 

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HOW HARD IT WILL BE FOR THOSE WHO HAVE RICHES TO ENTER THE KINGDOM OF GOD!

HOW HARD IT WILL BE FOR THOSE WHO HAVE RICHES TO ENTER THE KINGDOM OF GOD!

(A biblical refection on THE 28th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME [YEAR B] – 14 October 2018)

Gospel Reading: Mark 10:17-30 

First Reading: Wisdom 7:7-11; Psalms: Psalm 90:12-17; Second Reading: Hebrews 4:12-13 

The Scripture Text

And as He was setting out on His journey, a man ran up and knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” And he said to Him, “Teacher, all these I have observed from my youth.” And Jesus looking upon him loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” At that saying his countenance fell, and he went away sorrowful; for he had great possessions. 

And Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have riches to enter the Kingdom of God!” And the disciples were amazed at His words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the Kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.” And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to Him, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.” Peter began to say to Him, “Lord, we have left everything and followed You.” Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for My sake and for the Gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.” (Mark 10:17-30 RSV) 

When Jesus says in today’s Gospel that it is difficult for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God, the apostles can’t believe t heir ears because, like many of the other Jews of their day, they thought the rich had the best shot at being holy.

The Jews considered their laws to be a road map to holiness. A person who followed the laws was holy and someone who broke a law (even if they didn’t know what it was) was a sinner. Since most poor people had to work long hours for the basic necessities of life, hey didn’t have the time to study and learn all the Jewish laws in Scripture and tradition. Therefore, holiness was out of their reach.

Because the rich didn’t have to work so hard, they were able to devote more of their time to learning the interpretations of the law and had a better chance at being holy. Some of them even believed their prosperity was a sign that God was indeed pleased with them.

When Jesus says it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God, He isn’t talking about a sewing needle. Instead, He may be referring to a gate of the city of Jerusalem.

Ancient people built high walls around their cities for protection from hostile armies. They opened gates in the morning and closed these gates at dusk so invaders could not enter the city at night and capture it while everyone slept. The city of Jerusalem had seven main gates and several smaller ones. These gates were narrow and low so the enemy could not ride in on horseback but would first have to dismount and then proceed in on foot. The people of Jerusalem nicknamed one low and narrow gate “the eye of the needle”.

Although this gate kept the enemy out, it also made it difficult for traders who came from distant lands (often with camels laden with heavy, bulky packages) to get into the city. The trader had to unload all the goods from the camel, get the camel to bend down and squeeze through the gate, carry the goods through the gate himself, and then reload the camel. This whole process was time-consuming, hard work.

Jesus is saying in today’s Gospel that just as it is difficult for a camel to get through the eye of the needle because of the baggage, it is difficult for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God. “If it’s hard for a rich man to be holy”, the apostles must have reasoned, “then what chance do poor fishermen like us have?” Jesus tells them not to despair because He doesn’t measure holiness by what  a person owns, but by what one is willing to give up in order to follow Him. Whoever sacrifices family and possessions for the sake of the Gospel will have everlasting life.

Please take a few minutes to ask ourselves and answer the question honestly: “Would I be willing  to sacrifice some of my own wealth to spread the Gospel? 

(Adapted from Jerome J. Sabatowich, Cycling Through the Gospels – Gospel Commentaries for Cycles A, B, and C, pages 212-213.)

Prayer: Lord Jesus, I surrender everything that I am to You. Search my heart and show me what hinders me from answering Your call in every moment of my life. Amen.

Jakarta, 13 October 2018 

A Christian Pilgrim

 
 

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