Homily on the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B, 21/10/2018

Dear people of God,

Today the third Sunday of October is the world mission Sunday. Mission is service in the way of the Lord (Mark10:45) Mark gospel is about a journey from Galilee to Jerusalem which is also a journey of discovery of what does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus in the mission.

Christians go for pilgrimages to different sacred places. Every year in Kenya many Christians go to Subukia Shrine in Nakuru, Kenya. Not only in Kenya but also other parts of the world Christians go to Holy Land, Rome, Medjugorie and other sacred places for journeys. All these are spiritual journeys marked with a quest. The quest is about human life as a journey towards goal of wholeness and self realization. The quest is also to know more who is a Christian disciple in relation to Jesus Christ whom one follows.

This journey was depicted last Sunday in the rich young man who had a quest to follow Jesus, but his wealth became an obstacle in responding to his quest. His spiritual journey of becoming a disciple ended there when Jesus invited him to detach from his wealth.

Still Mark presents Jesus who is on a journey to Jerusalem accompanied by his ambitious disciples especially James and John who are filled with unseen quest. This is a spiritual journey but for the two disciples and probably other disciples it is a journey filled with honour and power ambitions.

It is good to note that the society of Jesus was filled with honour and shame. None would like to be publicly shamed or humiliated like most of the times we publicly like to be honoured. This is what James and John are all about: public honour. Power was a means of achieving things we perceive as important.

This could likely be the reality in your community, parish or small Christian community. Is your parish or small Christian community similar to this society of Jesus? What is the attitude of your leaders in your community? Is it of seeking honour or service to the people? Are your leaders and the entire parish a reflection of disciples of Jesus Christ who are filled with the grace of serving or seeking power? Are they ready to drink the Cup of Jesus and receive his baptism? That is, being plunged into Jesus’ sufferings?

All these questions are filled with a quest and Jesus’ answer to the two disciples is an echo to us that being disciples (Christians) is not about power and honour but service in the example of Jesus who being God did not claim equality with God something to be grasped but he humbled himself taking the form of a slave…and becoming obedient until death on a cross (Phil 2:6-8).

Today as we celebrate world mission Sunday let us remember the synod 2018, on YOUNG PEOPLE, FAITH AND VOCATIONAL DISCERNMENT which is already taking place in Rome, that the young people will burn with a quest to follow Jesus Christ through the Church in the way of humble service through their gifts and talents and become ambitious of what is Christ-like.

Let us renew our commitment to Christ by being ready to plunge ourselves in the mission even through Jesus’ sufferings in the poor, the lonely and the marginalized. Our experience in the mission gives us identity of true Christian disciples ready to become a ransom for others like Christ did.

Small Christian communities in the Diocese of Meru through the annual workshops instill in their members and leaders the sense of being plunged/immersed into a spiritual journey filled with a quest for humble and servant leadership in their parishes and small Christian communities. They are helped to open up their ears and listen to the response of Jesus to his disciples, that discipleship is not about power and honour but servants who are plunged into their master’s way of life. The participants are given a chance to re-think their quest for leadership that conforms to the style of Jesus Christ, the leadership of service depicted in John 13 when Jesus washed his disciples’ feet assuming the role of a slave and not kingly powerful Messiah.

During the small Christian communities’ leaders workshops, the leaders are taken into a Christian journey of discipleship of emptying oneself from quest for honour and power- filled leadership style, to become humble-service filled leaders in Christ.

St Thomas Aquinas a great medieval Philosopher and Theologian reflecting on our quest describes it as our ultimate goal. He asks: what is it in life that we seek? He describes our quest in Latin word “Beatitudo” meaning happiness, a serene and untouchable joy. To achieve a quest you need wealth (the question of last Sunday to the young man), honour, power and pleasure he explains. In today’s Gospel Jesus predicts the third time his passion and death of which the disciples fail to understand and we see James and John approaching  him with a quest anchored on “Beatitudo” which means they were asking for honour and power in contrast to “felicitas”-imperfect happiness which can be achieved in this life (Summa Contra Gentiles, 3).

Joy and Peace