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  Word To Life

Sunday Scripture Readings, Oct. 21, 2012

By Jean Denton
Catholic News Service

October 21, Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Cycle B. Readings:

1) Isaiah 53:10-11

Psalm 33:4-5, 18-20, 22

2) Hebrews 4:14-16

Gospel: Mark 10:35-45

When my son Zachary was preparing for confirmation, he announced to the family that he wanted to take "Michael" as his confirmation name.

I suspected he hadn't really given proper consideration to his choice and came up with it simply because he liked the name Michael. In fact, I was pretty sure he didn't even know that one's confirmation name is supposed to be the name of one's spiritual role model.

So, trying to offer a subtle lesson, I commended Zachary, "St. Michael the archangel is an excellent role model of spiritual strength." His father added, "Yes, St. Michael was the great protector against all evil."

I don't know what visions those comments evoked in our young man's mind over the next few months. But the day before his confirmation, Zachary came to me with a look of concern on his face. Apologetically, earnestly he said, "Listen, Mom, I've decided I'm not going to have Michael as my confirmation name. I just can't. It's too much pressure."

I had to agree: All evil would be a formidable foe for a newly anointed 16-year-old.

Today's readings aren't about St. Michael, but in the Gospel, two of Jesus' disciples tell their role model that they want to sit right next to him in his glory. "You do not know what you are asking," he rightly responds.

He wants them to understand that aspiring to be like him in glory will require suffering like him in the process. When he obliquely asks if they can drink the cup he drinks or be baptized with the same baptism, they confidently reply that they can. In their natural human arrogance they believe they're already on the road to greatness.

Jesus knows they are focused only on the greatness of being great, and they don't understand that the way to get there is by subservience, of all things. Nevertheless, that's his truth, and he tells them so directly: "Whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant." He himself, he adds pointedly, will serve the cause of others by giving his life.

Aspire to the role of servant? That's our model's role. To drink that cup there is a lot of pressure.


How do you need to change your attitude to make being a servant your goal? Who is a spiritual role model for you?


"Through his suffering, my servant shall justify many." -- Isaiah 53:11


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