October 17, 2021
Jesus said to [James and John], “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?”
– Mark 10:38
Brothers and Sisters,
We’ve all likely been on the receiving end of a not-too-friendly gaze at some point. I remember being on the receiving end of a few death glares after I asked a question just as the class period ended and the bell rang; I could tell by the looks on my classmate’s faces, they wanted to vacate, asap, and my question was holding them up!
In the interest of encouraging curiosity and understanding, we’ve all had at least one teacher or professor who told the class, “there is no such thing as a stupid question.” In the Gospel of Mark, chapter 10, Jesus is met with three questions. The Pharisees ask the first, not interested in gaining knowledge but in challenging Jesus. The rich young man asks Jesus, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” and after leaving dejected, Jesus appears to tell the disciples a rich person can’t enter heaven. To this lesson, the disciples ask Jesus, “Then, who can be saved?”
Hopefully, we stay engaged and wait to hear all of Jesus’ responses, “All things are possible for God.”
In today’s Gospel, James and John technically don’t ask a question; they ask for a favor. Still, they most likely felt the resulting anger emanating from their fellow disciples. Even if we are not so arrogant to ask for the “best seats” in the Kingdom, we too must answer. “Can you drink the cup that I drink?” In other words, can we journey with Jesus to the cross, endure suffering, showing the world what true love is? We should answer in prayer each day, “yes, Lord, we can.”
Along with an affirmation of faith, “by your grace” or “with your help.” In a few weeks, Bishop Parker will ask our confirmation candidates to renew their baptismal promises. All they need to do is answer “I do” five times. The first is the rejection of the path that Satan offers us. The answer seems easy, but if we honestly thought about what’s rejected, we might hesitate.
A “no” vindicates our denial of power, prestige, honor, and recognition. We are leaving riches and what the world values, holding firm to the Lord’s creation of infinite worth and his plan for us.
Then, candidates will affirm perhaps the most challenging belief after declaring allegiance to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. “Do you believe in the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting?” In other words, do you believe you can offer witness to the truth of the Gospel, reflect its beauty and radiance, and live out the goodness of God? With God’s help, we can. And if we are sincere, we don’t deserve the reward, but all glory belongs to our Creator.
In this time of prayerful listening of the Synod, let us ask God to renew our faith in the Holy Spirit who leads and guides our Church. And may the Lord continue to raise saints in our midst, inspiring and encouraging one another to go deeper in our grasp of the mysteries of Christ.
St. Joseph, pray for us.
Live Jesus in our hearts, forever.
Rev. Michael S. Triplett