Scripture reflection: Christ: Priest and suffering servant

7 October 2021

This week, through service of others, let us express our gratitude for what Christ has won for us. 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B, 17 October 2021

Lectionary readings
First reading: Isaiah 53:10-11
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 32(33):4-5, 18-20, 22
Second reading: Hebrews 4:14-16
Gospel: Mark 10:35-45.

Link to readings

This Sunday, following the predictions Jesus gave of his suffering and death, we contemplate our Saviour and the implications for us, his followers.

The First Reading comes from part of Isaiah’s last song of the suffering servant. It foretells Jesus taking on our faults, and speaks not only of his Passion, but also his glory. The Psalm sings of God’s love as he rescues those who hope in him. The writer of the letter to the Hebrews presents Jesus as human and weak like us, but also as the supreme high priest. We can be confident that he will always help us. (Second ReadingIn the Gospel, James and John hope for privileged places in the kingdom, but learn that they, like Jesus, must go through suffering and death. They are asked to serve, not to dominate.

Perhaps this week we can deepen our understanding of what Christ has won for us, and express our gratitude through service of others.

SECOND READING
Hebrews 4: 14-16
Since in Jesus, the Son of God, we have the supreme high priest who has gone through to the highest heaven, we must never let go of the faith that we have professed. For it is not as if we had a high priest who was incapable of feeling our weaknesses with us; but we have one who has been tempted in every way that we are, though he is without sin. Let us be confident, then, in approaching the throne of grace, that we shall have mercy from him and find grace when we are in need of help.

REFLECTION

As I begin my prayer, I place myself in God’s presence. I slowly breathe in his love and offer him this time of prayer. What grace do I ask for today? When I am ready, I read the passage slowly.

The author of the letter to the Hebrews writes with utter conviction, presenting Jesus Christ as Son of God and supreme high priest. Perhaps I can receive these words with gratitude and reverence.

But the writer also presents Jesus as human: weak like us, tempted like us ... though without sin. How do I respond? What do I say to him? When I struggle with life or issues of faith, I know I can come to Jesus with confidence. I tell him this and speak of what is in my heart.

I spend some time listening, and asking for the gifts I need. I think of family and friends, of people in need all over the world. I place them in the Lord’s hands. I rest in the confidence that the Lord will listen to my prayer and I thank him in advance. I end my prayer with a ‘Glory be ...

GOSPEL
Mark 10: 35-45
James and John, the sons of Zebedee, approached Jesus. ‘Master,’ they said to him, ‘we want you to do us a favour.’ He said to them, ‘What is it you want me to do for you?’ They said to him, ‘Allow us to sit one at your right hand and the other at your left in your glory.’ ‘You do not know what you are asking’, Jesus said to them. ‘Can you drink the cup that I must drink, or be baptised with the baptism with which I must be baptised?’ They replied, ‘We can.’ Jesus said to them, ‘The cup that I must drink you shall drink, and with the baptism with which I must be baptised you shall be baptised, but as for the seats at my right hand or my left, these are not mine to grant: they belong to those to whom they have been allotted.’

When the other 10 heard this they began to feel indignant with James and John, so Jesus called them to him and said to them, ‘You know that among the pagans their so-called rulers lord it over them, and their great ones make their authority felt. This is not to happen among you. No; anyone who wants to become great among you must be your servant, and anyone who wants to be first among you must be slave to all. For the Son of Man himself did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’

REFLECTION

I come to my place of prayer. I take the time to relax my body as I come into God’s presence. I remind myself that I am enveloped in his unconditional love. In time, I read the Gospel slowly. I picture James and John – their youth, impetuousness, confidence and ambition. What are my attitudes as I come before the Lord with my requests?

I contemplate Jesus’s reaction. I consider his gentleness and patience, but also his direct teaching, his humility. Can I learn something from his example in my dealings with others? I speak to him about this. Perhaps I can also learn from the indignation of the other disciples?

How do my reactions fit in with Jesus’s call to me to serve, and to be willing to suffer for the sake of others? I spend time speaking to him about my feelings ... and maybe also about my reluctance. I ask him for the graces I need to follow him more closely. I end my prayer with gratitude for his gift of himself.

Prepared by St Beuno’s Outreach in the Diocese of Wrexham