Homily Twenty-ninth Sunday Year B Sacrifice of service

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Homily: Twenty-ninth Sunday Year B

Reading 1: Isaiah, sixth centuries before Jesus, led by the Spirit, prophesied about the future Servant of God who would suffer for others. In the last couple of months this is the third time we have heard from Isaiah’s Suffering Servant hymn. This Servant of God will give his life as an offering for sin. Through his sufferings he will justify many and their guilt he shall bear. The will of the Lord will be accomplished through him.

Without knowing the fuller implications of his prophetic message, Isaiah was preparing the people for Lord’s plan for the world’s redemption through his Son, Jesus. His very name, Jesus, means one who saves his people from their sins. As the Messiah, Christ, he does the great work of salvation by freely embracing death on the cross at the hands of others in total love and obedience to the Father.

It is not a vengeful and mean God, but a God who understands the person who wants to give his life for others.

Take a few moments to reflect on this great sign of love which Christ has shown us. For it is for our sins, my sins, that he gave his life so that I could live in him, free from the bondage of sin and guilt.

Reading 2: What is the focus of the second reading? Though he was God, the Incarnate Word, Jesus, suffered in his humanity. Though he was sinless, he embrace the death of the cross for our sins. He is our mediator and intercessor before the throne of God. It is through him that we approach the infinite God for mercy and forgiveness of our sins.

We say that the death of Jesus was a perfect sacrifice to the Father on our behalf. “Sacrifice” does not so much mean giving up something but rather living for a purpose. The word “sacrifice” comes from two Latin words: “Sacer” meaning holy or sacred and “Facere” meaning to make. To sacrifice ones’ life to God means to make your life holy by living for God and doing some definite service in this world for others.

Two things, therefore, we are taught in this reading. Because of who Jesus is and what he has done for our sake, we are to remain faithful to our acknowledgment of him as Lord and Savior. Secondly, we can confidently come through him to the Father of mercies.

Gospel: In the verses preceding this section Jesus gave the third prediction of his upcoming passion and death. James and John totally missed the significance of these words. They were completely self-absorbed and self-serving. Last week we saw where the rich young man was lacking, not able to follow Jesus in complete dependence, because he was possessed by his wealth. Today, James and John are not able to embrace the mystery of the cross because of their desire for power and prestige.

Picking up the Suffering Servant theme in Isaiah, Jesus defines his own ministry and that of his disciples. It is a ministry of service. It is a ministry of contradiction. It is an attitude which goes against the desires and expectations of what people experience and are taught, namely power and authority over others. The more power over others one exercise, the more important that person is in the eyes of others and the more that person is emulated.

Jesus talks about real power through an attitude and a life of service to others. But not just any service, but ultimate service—giving one’s very life for the other. We see this in a person like Mother Theresa of Calcutta. But we also see it in the lives of many unsung heroes and heroines who placed others’ needs before their own.

Jesus is talking also about the day to day opportunities we have to imitate him in little ways of serving others out of love, out of gratitude, out of response to him for what he has done for us.

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