Today’s Gospel: Mark 10:32-45
Optional Memorial of Saint Augustine of Canterbury, Bishop
Today’s Mass readings begin with a reading from Sirach, written during the time when the remnant of Israel had come back to the Promised Land. Sirach longs for the day when all of Israel’s children will return, when Israel will be made whole again, with the promised Messiah as King. The Psalm echoes this sentiment, even using a line from Sirach for the response; the author prays for the time when Israel will be made whole again, when God will pardon the sins of the nation, when He will rule them.
Jesus’ disciples knew that He was the promised Messiah, the Anointed One who would rule God’s people. The problem was that they didn’t fully understand the idea that His kingdom would not be a worldly one — Jesus wasn’t there to rule in glory on earth, kick the Romans out of Judea, and bring the sort of justice earthly kings try to bring. Jesus’ crown would be of thorns, and His justice would be the remission of sins that was promised in the Psalms. Even though Jesus was quite clear that He would suffer and die at the hands of the elders, James and John still have the idea that His kingdom would be of this world, and they ask to sit at Jesus’ right and left, to rule alongside Him.
I wonder often if Jesus got frustrated with His Apostles when they brought this up in various ways. Even at the Ascension, Philip asked if it was now time for Jesus to be King of Israel and kick the Romans out on their rear ends. If Jesus had a Twitter account, I get the feeling #facepalm would be a regular feature of his feed. But are we any different than the Apostles?
Jesus does not promise His Kingdom here on earth. Heaven on Earth is impossible, and we must remember that the Kingdom is not to be found in this life. Jesus doesn’t promise sunshine and daisies in life; we will face hardships, and we will face illnesses. Sometimes we’ll face persecution, as our brethren in the Middle East and in dictatorial countries face on a daily basis. Jesus doesn’t promise our lives will be easy when we follow Him, but He does promise that when we remain faithful, He will bring us to His Kingdom where we will be happy with Him forever. Life as a Christian isn’t easy, but it gives us the graces we need to make it through the tough times that we encounter. Hold on tight: the ride is bumpy, but the reward is great.
Does my faith falter when I face difficulty in life? Am I looking for Jesus to answer all my prayers to make my life easy and drama-free? How can I change my prayer life to reflect the understanding that problems come, but God gives the graces necessary to face those problems?
Jesus, I thank You for the graces you pour out on me daily so that I can live my life for You. Teach me to face difficulties with faith in You, and to rely on the graces You provide me to carry me through those times. Help me to remember that even when this life is hard, You are with me and will never leave me alone.
We thank our friends at The Word Among Us for providing our gospel reflection team with copies of Abide In My Word 2015: Mass Readings at Your Fingertips. To pray the daily gospels with this wonderful resource, visit The Word Among Us.
Copyright 2015 Christine Johnson