Companions on the Journey

Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Isaiah 53:10 - 11

The LORD was pleased to crush him in infirmity. If he gives his life as an offering for sin, he shall see his descendants in a long life, and the will of the LORD shall be accomplished through him. Because of his affliction he shall see the light in fullness of days; through his suffering, my servant shall justify many, and their guilt he shall bear.

Hebrews 4:14 - 16

Brothers and sisters: Since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin. So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.

Mark 10:35 - 45

James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus and said to him, "Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you." He replied, "What do you wish me to do for you?" They answered him, "Grant that in your glory we may sit one at your right and the other at your left." Jesus said to them, "You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I drink or be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?" They said to him, "We can." 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 or at my left is not mine to give but is for those for whom it has been prepared." When the ten heard this, they became indignant at James and John. Jesus summoned them and said to them, "You know that those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all. For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many."

What does an authentic relationship look like? The descriptions may vary, but ultimately, at its heart is love that embodies a genuine giving and receiving. Jean Vanier writes,

“Loving someone does not simply mean doing things for them; it is much more profound. To love someone is to show to them their beauty, their worth and their importance; it is to understand them, understand their cries and their body language; it is to rejoice in their presence, spend time in their company and communicate with them. To love is to live a heart-to-heart relationship with another, giving to and receiving from each other.”

Vanier, Jean. Seeing Beyond Depression, qtd from “Daily Thoughts From Jean Vanier”, L’Arche Newsletters, June 24, 2011, Saving Souls For God’s Kingdom.

This week’s readings reveal the transformative power of an authentic relationship with God. An authentic relationship implies companionship; a journeying through hills and valleys. Most importantly, there is an indelible trust between the two parties. As explained in the Paul’s epistle to the Hebrews and Mark’s Gospel, Christ is not our fair-weather buddy who only laughs but does not cry with us. In fact, He fully understands all the glory and pitfalls of our human condition; He is able to “sympathize with our weaknesses”, has “been tested as we are”, bears our “iniquities”, and freely “give[s] his life as a ransom for many” (Heb 4:15, Is 53:11, Mk 10:45). Indeed, Jesus is our true companion on the journey.

Christ, who had breathed, eaten, taught, and walked among creation, had revealed to us, and continues to do so, our “beauty”, “worth”, and “importance” through his words and deeds (Vanier). We are so precious to him that he gives up his life for us! Therefore, with the certainty that Christ is our constant companion on the journey, we are able to “hold fast to our confession” and “approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb 4:14,16). Christ, our teacher, friend, and brother reveals a vision of genuine relationships through his own actions; instead of acting like the “great ones” and “tyrants” who lead only with self-interest and indifference, he advises that “whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all” (Mk 10:43-44). Indeed, Jesus not only walks with his disciples but He also washes their feet! Having an authentic relationship with God implies a genuine receiving of God’s love and words, as well as a genuine giving of ourselves to God and each other. In other words, Christ invites us to lead a counter-cultural way of life: to “drink the cup” that He drinks; “be baptized with the baptism” that He is baptized with, and be “servant” and “slave of all” (Mk 10:39, 43-44).

Finally, having an authentic relationship with our loving God often means trusting Him, one hundred and ten percent, even during turbulent times. As the Psalmist proclaims, “let your steadfast love be upon us, Lord, even as we hope in you” (Ps 33:22). The same hope and faith can be observed in Isaiah’s suffering servant, “Out of his anguish he shall see light” and willingly suffers so that “the will of the Lord shall prosper” (is 53:10-11).

Indeed, an authentic relationship with God, and each other, has the potency of completely transforming us from the inside out! As Vanier reflects, love is more than simply “doing something” for others; it is “to live a heart-to-heart relationship with another, giving to and receiving from each other”. Christ comes to offer his heart to us first so that we may have the courage to journey with him and let “the will of the Lord […] prosper” (Is 53:10).

Posted: October 21, 2018

Susanna Mak

Susanna深信,信仰需要在日常生活中顯露出來,尤其是當與別人相處時,需要分擔對方所面對的困境、抉擇和挑戰。她有着很多不同的身份:女兒、姐姐、朋友、姨姨、妻子、老師、校牧、終身學習者和偶爾替《生命恩泉》寫作的作者。在每一個身份當中, 她努力為天主的愛和希望作見証。 她在多倫多擔任高中教師近二十年,擁有英語、學生讀寫能力、青年領袖活動、校牧組等經驗。 她是多倫多大學商業和英語學士,教育學士,亞省Athabasca大學綜合研究碩士,以及擁有多倫多大學Regis學院神學研究碩士證書。她對於成為《生命恩泉》寫作團隊的一份子, 深感榮幸。 Susanna has a deep conviction that faith needs to be manifested in daily life, particularly, in one’s encounters with others as well as amidst dilemmas, choices, and challenges. She strives to be a living sign of God’s love and hope as a daughter, sister, friend, aunt, wife, teacher, chaplain, life-long learner, and occasional writer for FLL. She has been a high school teacher in Toronto for almost 20 years, with experiences in English and literacy, youth leadership initiatives, the Chaplaincy Team, to mention a few. She has a B. Comm, B.A. in English, and a B. Education from University of Toronto, an M.A. in Integrated Studies from Athabasca University, and a Graduate Certificate of Theological Studies from Regis College, U of T. She is humbled by the opportunity to be part of the FLL Writing Team.

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