29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B
October 20/21, 2018
Isaiah 53:10-11; Heb 4:14-16; Mark 10:35-45
James and John in the Gospel today thought they had a plan and they were eager to accomplish it. They thought they knew the best way to move their plan forward so they asked to sit on the right and left of Jesus in his kingdom.
When we develop a grand plan for our lives, it is tempting to be a Caesar and not a carpenter’s son, to be an emperor not a citizen, to be rich and powerful and avoid a crucifixion.
We all want to make a difference. We want to have an impact, leave our mark on the world, so we develop plans for our lives. We think we have good plans, good intentions, and sincere efforts and for that reason, like James and John, we want to sit at the right or left of God. We snuggle up to powerful people or places of influence hoping to increase the chances our plans for life will succeed. We end up playing an exhausting game.
We often approach God with our plans, and say, “God do what I want you to do for me. Make my plan your plan!” If we think that way, God will ask us in return, “Can you drink the cup I will drink? Will you do what I will ask you to do?”
What is God’s plan for us and how does that fit with our plans?
We can only see a certain amount and tolerate a limited amount of stress before we reach a point when we admit, “God, I need your help; I need your guidance; I need your grace.” We begin to see that our plans are short-sighted and God’s plan has eternity in mind. When God makes his plan known to us, we often react, “Who me? You want me to do what? To live how in this world?” We really don’t have to look very far or hard to know it. The general outline is obvious because he makes it known in the Scriptures; he makes it known in our prayer life; he makes it known in the faith of the Church handed down to us by the apostles.
The closer we get to God, the more we accomplished, the greater the mark we leave. The closer we are to God the more we make a positive difference in the world and in the lives of others. The more faith we have in God’s plan the less we give in to our pride and our desire for power and prestige, the right and the left, and the more we hope and trust in the future.
Which plan will we follow, God’s plan or ours? The Scriptures tell us that we can confidently approach the throne of grace to receive all the help we need to follow God’s plan. We can confidently, in other words, trust God with our lives because he understands everything about us. The divine Son of God, Jesus, was like us in all things but sin, in other words, he had a human nature and experienced human things, but he always did the will of his Father, never had his own plan but only the plan of the Father. Jesus trusted in the Father. Jesus was God, but did not cling to sitting at the right of left of God the Father; rather, he willing became a man and experienced all we go through. Jesus now sits at the right hand of the Father, and he has reserved a spot for us there with him if we are willing to be obedient to his will for us in our lives.
Yes, Jesus already has gone ahead of us to prepare a place for us in heaven. Our spot is reserved! Will we occupy it? Will we accept it? Will we remember what Jesus has done for us when we are tempted to follow our own plans, when we are tempted to go our own way, when we are tempted to sin? Perhaps remembering that Jesus has experienced everything we will experience and has secured our spot in heaven if we are faithful to God, maybe remembering this will help us say no to sin, to those choices to go our own way, to go away from God.
When we face life’s challenges, may we not demand power or position; may we not snuggle up to the rich and powerful, but rather, may we ask God to make his plan known; ask God for his mercy and fill us with his grace so his will, not ours may be accomplished.