COMMENTARYAGAPE BIBLE STUDYSUNDAY WEBSITELIFE APPLICATIONSCATENA AUREA

29th Sunday of Year B

Commentary Excerpts (PDF)

SOURCE: Bible study program at St. Charles Borromeo (Picayune, MS) courtesy of Military Archdiocese.
Featured
OUR SUNDAY VISITOR
OUR SUNDAY VISITOR

Key Points to the Readings

FIRST READING
Isaiah 53:10-11

He shall see light in due time.

  • There are five songs in Isaiah that describe the suffering of a servant of the Lord.
  • Today’s passage was written toward the end of the Babylonian exile.
  • In this last song, with death approaching, the servant’s suffering is revealed as atonement for the guilt of others.
SOURCES: Content adapted from Our Sunday Visitor.  The clipart is from the archive of Father Richard Lonsdale © 2000 which may be freely reproduced in any non-profit publication.

SECOND READING
Hebrews 4:14-16

We have a great high priest!

  • In Hebrews, the author points out the supremacy of Jesus’ priesthood.
  • Jesus knows our weakness and has shared our suffering.
  • Through Jesus, the great work of God’s salvation has been accomplished.
SOURCES: Content adapted from Our Sunday Visitor.  The clipart is from the archive of Father Richard Lonsdale © 2000 which may be freely reproduced in any non-profit publication.

GOSPEL
Mark 10:35-45

The first shall be last.

  • In today’s Gospel story, James and John ask for positions of honor in the kingdom.
  • Jesus tells them that the only position they should seek is the position he has assumed, that of a servant.
  • The Gospel of Mark shows the substantial demands placed on Jesus’ followers.
SOURCES: Content adapted from Our Sunday Visitor.  The clipart is from the archive of Father Richard Lonsdale © 2000 which may be freely reproduced in any non-profit publication.

DR. KIERAN J. O’MAHONY, OSA

For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve (PDF)

Thought for the Day

As such, ambition is not quite neutral. We are called to be ambitious, that is, to use our gifts, to inhabit our strengths, to be of real service. St Paul says, be ambitious for the higher gifts. It is not that ambition as such is harmful; however, in the common experience, ambition can be destructively egocentric and based on distorted motivation.

SOURCE: HEARERS OF THE WORD
DR. BRANT PITRE
READ THE TRANSCRIPT

So you see there the Catechism is saying what I’m saying, or I mean I’m saying what the Catechism is saying. Namely, that the use of the term many is not restrictive, it encompasses all of humanity, and the church emphasizes that in the next statement, it says:

The Church, following the apostles, teaches that Christ died for all men without exception: “There is not, never has been, and never will be a single human being for whom Christ did not suffer.”

That’s from the Council of Quiercy there, Catechism 605. That’s a big claim that we’re making, Christ died for all. He died for every human being, every single person who has ever lived on this planet or whoever will live on this planet. That is the teaching of the church following the apostles. So Christianity teaches a message of universal salvation in the sense that there is the potential for every single human being to be redeemed by the blood of Christ. That’s how powerful his blood is, that’s how valuable the cross is, that’s the price that he paid on Calvary, that’s the inestimable value of the ransom of the Son of Man. How is that possible though? How can we say that about Jesus? Well paragraph 616 in the Catechism gives us the answer and I’ll close with this, I love this paragraph, it’s so beautiful. It says this:

It is love “to the end” that confers on Christ’s sacrifice its value as redemption and reparation, as atonement and satisfaction. He knew and loved us all when he offered his life.

And it goes on to say:

No man, not even the holiest, was ever able to take on himself the sins of all men and offer himself as a sacrifice for all. The existence in Christ of the divine person of the Son, who at once surpasses and embraces all human persons and constitutes himself as the Head of all mankind, makes possible his redemptive sacrifice for all.

The last two words are italicized, for all. So what’s the Catechism saying there? The only reason Christians can claim that Jesus’ death on Calvary atones for the sins of all humanity is because Christians also know that Jesus was God, that Jesus was the eternal son of God made man taking upon himself the sins of the whole world, because as Peter says elsewhere, if love covers a multitude of sins, if human love covers a multitude of sins, then divine love, infinite divine love, covers an infinite multitude of sins. We cannot outdo the love of Christ. We cannot overcome the infinite value of the ransom of Jesus Christ on the cross, and I just think that’s really important for us to stress in these days, because in my years of studying at the academy, I met a lot of people who think Jesus is a great guy or maybe even think he’s a prophet, or even maybe the Messiah, but they have a hard time swallowing the mystery of the Incarnation. And every single time I met a person who doesn’t believe Jesus is fully God, invariably they also don’t believe that the cross is an atoning act. They don’t believe in the atonement, they don’t believe in the idea, in the truth, that Jesus dies for the sins of all humanity, and what they end up inevitably doing is coming up with some other solution to the problems that humanity faces. The solution gets shifted away from the cross, because once the cross is just one more death of one more Jew by the Roman Empire, it loses it’s divine power and its efficacy to take care of your sins and my sin, to atone for your sins, my sin and the sins of all the world. It becomes a tragedy and not the mechanism of redemption for the whole human race. So you see here how the mystery of the cross and the mystery of the Incarnation are intricately bound up with one another. That’s what the apostles hadn’t learned, and that’s what Jesus was trying to teach them when he uttered those solemn words “the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

SUBSCRIBE OR LOGIN FOR FULL ACCESS

MORE VIDEOS BY DR PITRE
Niell Donavan

Sermon Writer

FIRST READING

NO COMMENTARY AVAILABLE THIS WEEK

SECOND READING

HEBREWS 4:14-16.  HAVING THEN A GREAT HIGH PRIEST

GOSPEL

MARK 10:35-40. GRANT TO US THAT WE MIGHT SIT AT YOUR RIGHT HAND

MARK 10:41-44. WHOEVER OF YOU WANTS TO BECOME GREAT

MARK 10:45. THE SON OF MAN ALSO CAME TO SERVE

Richard Niell Donavan, a Disciples of Christ clergyman, published SermonWriter from 1997 until his death in 2020. His wife Dale has graciously kept his website online. A subscription is no longer required.

29th Sunday of Year B

Taking Up the Cup

HIDE/SHOW OVERVIEW

Taking up the cup is one of the symbolic images of the Old Testament prophets). Drinking the best wine is the image of perfect covenant union between God and His people who drink from the cup of salvation (e.g., Ps 116:13). But when the covenant people abandon their relationship with God by failing to keep His commandments, the prophets symbolized their rebellion as drunkenness and His judgment as drinking the “cup of God’s wrath” (e.g., Is 51:17, 22; Jer 25:15).

The First Reading is a prelude to the Gospel Reading and describes the suffering of God’s Servant who drank the “cup of God’s wrath” on behalf of sinful humanity. He is God’s remedy for sin and the separation it causes between Him and His human children because the Servant “shall justify many and their guilt he shall bear,” freeing those he has justified of the burden of their sins.

Today’s Responsorial Psalm expresses the most basic and powerful theological confession of the Book of Psalms: the Lord is faithful to His promises. His love is apparent to those with eyes to see the wise ordering of creation that is the Lord’s doing. In the last verses of the reading, the focus is on those who receive the blessing of the Lord’s hesed, His faithful covenant love. Those who fear offending God trust Him with their lives and show their reverence for Him by their commitment to living holy lives to please Him. They are united to God in a covenant relationship and know that they can count on Him as a refuge and the source of their salvation.

In the Second Reading from the Letter to the Hebrews, the inspired writer addressed the Jewish-Christian communities of the first century AD concerning the limited mission of the Jewish High Priest. Under the Law of the Sinai Covenant, every high priest had to continually offer the blood of animals for sin sacrifices in the Jerusalem Temple, including the twice-daily whole burnt offering of an unblemished Tamid lamb for the atonement and sanctification of the covenant people. And once a year, he made sin sacrifices for the covenant people on the Feast of Yom Kippur (Feast of Atonement).  However, Jesus fulfilled all the old covenant blood rituals when He died once and for all time as the unblemished sacrifice for the sins of humanity. And, having accomplished His work of redemption, He ascended to the heavenly Temple where, as the eternal New Covenant High Priest, He continues to offer Himself as the one perfect sacrifice for the redemption and salvation of sinners in every generation.

In the Gospel Reading, the Apostles James and John Zebedee aspired for greatness in Jesus’s Kingdom, but they did not understand what He was referring to when He asked them if they could “drink from my cup” (Mt 20:22; Mk 10:38-39).  They thought He was speaking of the “cup of salvation.” But Jesus referred to the suffering He must endure in accepting the “cup of God’s wrath” on behalf of sinful humanity, fulfilling the destiny of God’s “Suffering Servant” that Isaiah wrote about in the First Reading.

Because Jesus willingly drank from the “cup of God’s wrath” (Mt 26:39-42; Mk 14:36; Lk 22:42; Jn 18:11) on behalf of sinful humanity, we are invited to drink from the Eucharistic “cup of salvation” (Mt 26:27; Mk 14:23-24; Lk 22:20; 1 Cor 11:25). The Eucharistic cup of Christ’s blood nourishes us spiritually on our earthly journey as we look forward to the banquet of the just in heavenly Wedding Supper of the Lamb and His Bride, the Church (Rev 19:6-9). For this reason, from our hearts, we cry out the words in today’s Psalm response: “Lord, let your mercy be on us as we place our trust in You.”


FIRST READING

AGAPE STUDY

The Servant of the Lord

10 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. 11 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.

The Fourth Servant Song

This passage is from the fourth of the “Servant Songs” in the Book of Isaiah. It points to Jesus and His teaching in today’s Gospel that the duty of those who serve Christ and His Church is to submit their lives to the will of God. Like Isaiah’s Servant, God calls His Servant, God the Son, to bear sufferings that are not due to His sins but in atonement for the sins of others. In obedience to the Father’s will, Jesus suffered and gave His life in atonement for the sins of others. God will bless those “descendants” who belong to Jesus’s New Covenant family with a “long life” in eternity.

St. Matthew will quote Isaiah 53:4 from this passage as a fulfillment statement applied to Jesus and His mission in Matthew 8:17. Matthew writes that Jesus fulfills the prophecies of Isaiah’s Suffering Servant, and His healing miracles are a sign of the Suffering Servant’s work of redemption. Jesus suffered for the sins of humanity even though He was not guilty of any transgressions. By bearing the penalty for the sins of humanity, He expiated the guilt humankind earned through those sins, and He offered redemption and the gift of eternal salvation.


Mystery of Redemption

Jesus’s entire life is a mystery of redemption, and His redemptive work above all comes to us through the blood He shed on the altar of the Cross (Eph 1:7; Col 1:13-14; 1 Pt 1:18-19). The unveiling of this mystery began in the prophecies of the Old Testament prophets (CCC 517). St. Theodoret of Cyrus wrote: “The sufferings of our Savior are our cure” ( De Incarnatione Domini, 28). He died for us that we might have an eternally “long life” as children in the covenant family of His Kingdom in Heaven.

Excerpts from Michal E. Hunt’s Agape Bible Study. Material slightly reformatted. Used with permission.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

AGAPE BIBLE STUDY

A Hymn of Praise for the Lord’s Faithful Love

Response: Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.

Psalm 33 is an invitation to offer a hymn of praise to Yahweh (whose divine name, Yahweh, appears fourteen times in the psalm, rendered as LORD). Yahweh is the Lord God, who created the universe by His divine Word (verses 4-5; Gen 1:3).


Hebrew Word Hesed/Checed

Our reading repeats the Hebrew word hesed/checed three times in verses 5, 6, and 22. God expressed His love for His covenant people in the Old Testament by this word, which our English translations usually render as “love,” “faithful love,” or “merciful love” (expressed as hesed we’emet for example in Gen 24:49; 32:11; 47:29; Ex 34:6; Jos 2:14; 2 Sam 2:6; 15:20).  However, hesed has a much narrower definition than the English word “love” conveys.

In the Hebrew Scriptures, hesed refers to the kind of love that is both promised and owed. Hesed is a mutual exchange of affection and loyalty based on mutual obligations. It is also a love formed in the bonds of a covenant relationship. When used for human relationships, hesed means union, fidelity, and loyalty in the context of the marriage covenant (Gen 24:49). And when used between men or nations, it expresses the covenant bond of family loyalty and treaty obligations (Gen 21:27; 1 Sam 11:1). However, using hesed to describe God’s interaction with humankind expresses His faithfulness to His covenant. It includes the benevolent blessings and mercy He shows His obedient covenant family and their love and loyalty that He expects in return (as in Ex 34:6-7 or in Ps 136 where the word hesed is repeated 26 times, once in every verse).


God’s Providence Over Humanity

In Psalm 33, the psalmist is thankful to the Lord God who has, in his hesed/covenant love, revealed Himself through His works and His word. The “word of the Lord” (verse 4) is an expression of divine purpose and, at the same time, the agent by which God achieves that purpose. This is what the psalmist means when he says the word is “upright,” indicating that it does what God intends it to do, just as the righteous faithful, the morally upright, are those who do what God has commanded (verses 4 and 18). The psalmist is aware that God’s providence is over humanity.  He made every human being, and He reads the hearts of everyone as He watches over the lives of those who revere Him and fear offending Him (verse 18).


The Lord is Faithful to His Promises

This psalm expresses the most basic and powerful theological confession of the Book of Psalms: that the Lord is faithful to His promises, and His steadfast covenant love (hesed) is apparent to those with eyes to see in the trustworthy and wise ordering of creation that is the Lord’s doing.  In the last verses of our reading, the focus is on those who receive the Lord’s faithful covenant love: those who fear the Lord by revering Him and living holy lives to please Him.  These faithful who trust in the Lord can count on Him as a refuge and the source of their salvation.

Excerpts from Michal E. Hunt’s Agape Bible Study.Material slightly reformatted. Used with permission.

SECOND READING

AGAPE BIBLE STUDY

Jesus Our Compassionate High Priest

Brothers and sisters: 14 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.  15 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.  16 So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.

The inspired writer of the Letter to the Hebrews is believed by many Biblical scholars, ancient and modern, to be St. Paul. He writes in verse 14 that Jesus, the merciful and faithful High Priest of the New Covenant, “passed through the heavens” in His Ascension (verse 14) and now stands before the throne of God, expiating the sins of the covenant people. This verse has the first mention of Heaven as the place where Jesus administers His priestly function and where His sacrifice takes on an eternal and timeless value. The inspired writer uses the phrase “let us hold fast to our confession” (verse 14), urging his audience to be vigilant in their faith, avoiding sin, and trusting God’s plan in their lives.  He used the same words, making the same plea, in Hebrews 10:23 when he wrote: Let us hold unwaveringly to our confession that gives us hope, for he who made the promise is trustworthy.

15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has similarly been tested [peirazein] in every way, yet without sin.

The Greek word peirazein [pi-rad’-zin] can mean both “test” and “tempt,” as in the temptation to sin. Jesus, our New Covenant High Priest, has been tested: Satan tempted and tested Him after St. John’s baptism (Mt 4:1-11; Mk 1:12-13; Lk 4:1-13). But Jesus was also tested throughout His public ministry by the religious authorities and the people (Mt 4:7; 19:3; Mk 8:11; Lk 10:25; 22:28; Jn 6:6). And His final test was in His willingness to fulfill God’s plan as He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mt 26:39, 42; Mk 14:34-36; 22:42-44; Heb 5:7-8). As a fully human man, Jesus experienced temptation but never enticed to commit sin because He was free from the temptation to sin: For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him (2 Cor 5:21; also see CCC# 6032119).

In verse 16, the inspired writer urges Christians to have no fear and confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help. Faithful believers in Christ should have no fear of sin, physical death, or judgment. Jesus was without sin, but He witnessed sin and experienced the temptations of sin; therefore, He can sympathize with our struggles to resist sin. His promise to us is that He will intercede for us with the Father and will help us overcome the challenges we face as we journey in this world toward our Promised Land in Heaven.

The Catechism gives us the assurance of Christ’s intervention on our behalf: “All Christ’s riches ‘are for every individual and are everybody’s property.’  Christ did not live his life for himself but for us, from his Incarnation ‘for us men and for our salvation’ to his death ‘for our sins’ and Resurrection ‘for our justification.’  He is still ‘our advocate with the Father,’ who ‘always lives to make intercession’ for us.  He remains ever ‘in the presence of God on our behalf, bringing before him all that he lived and suffered for us'” (CCC# 519 quoting 1 Cor 15:3; Rom 4:25; 1 Jn 2:1; Heb 7:25 and 9:24).  Jesus’s promise to us in Matthew 28:20 gives us the courage we need to seek both God’s mercy and grace when he said: “And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

Excerpts from Michal E. Hunt’s Agape Bible Study. Material slightly reformatted. Used with permission.

GOSPEL

AGAPE BIBLE STUDY

The Ambition of the Sons of Zebedee

Jesus’s earlier teaching on humility seems to have minimal impact on the Zebedee brothers (see Mk 10:15, 28-31). They apparently heard the part about heavenly rewards but not the teaching on having the humility of a little child or when Jesus said: 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first. Therefore, the brothers request the places of highest honor at the Messianic Banquet of the Just, asking, “Grant that in your glory we may sit one at your right and the other at your left.”

38 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?” 39 They said to him, “We can.”

James and John did not understand what commitment they were making when they expressed their willingness to “drink” from Jesus’s “cup.” The brothers were probably thinking of the Old Testament prophets and their descriptions of drinking from the cup of God’s glory in the eschatological banquet. They likely recalled prophecies like the heavenly banquet in Isaiah 25:6On this mountain the LORD of hosts will provide for all peoples a feast of rich food and choice wines … and so they have asked for places on either side of the Master when He enters His heavenly glory. On the contrary, “the cup” Jesus will drink and “the baptism” with which He will “be baptized” are His cup of suffering and the cup of God’s wrath that He will accept on behalf of sinful humanity through the baptism of His blood on the altar of the Cross (see Is 51:17-23; Mk 14:36 and the chart on the “Symbolic Imagery of the Prophets“).

39 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; 40 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.”

In reply to their petition and the acceptance of His “cup,” He told them He could not give them the places of honor they requested because that was the prerogative of God the Father, but they would indeed drink from His “cup.” On this side of salvation history, it is heart-rending to read the brothers’ enthusiastic reply that they are ready to drink from Jesus’s cup, not understanding He was referring to His “cup of suffering.” He had already given them three prophecies of His Passion (Mk 8:31-33; 9:30-32; 10:32-34), but it was inconceivable to them that the Son of God would allow mere humans to harm Him. The irony is that they will each receive what they have asked: James was the first Apostle to be martyred (Acts 12:2), and John lived a long life of suffering for the sake of Christ’s kingdom. But at this point, they are both very confident and ambitious, believing that Jesus will reign in glory, and they want to reign with Him.


The Anger of the Ten Apostles

41 When the ten heard this, they became indignant at James and John.  42 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.  43 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.  45 For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Unfortunately, the Apostles are still acting more “childish” than “childlike.” They are indignant that the Zebedee brothers should aspire to such an honor. In responding to their displeasure, Jesus returns to the theme of “the last shall be first” and the importance of humility and service. The question of rank among the Apostles began with their argument concerning “who was greatest” in Mark 9:34. After the disciples experience their “dark night of the soul” in the crisis of Jesus’s Passion and crucifixion, they never raise the issue again. Through their suffering, they all learn humility and obedience.

42 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.”

His kingdom will not be like rank and authority in the Gentile kingdoms where the people are “slaves” to the rulers. They are to be, and every priest of every generation who succeeds them, are to be the servants of the children of God in Christ’s Kingdom of the Church.  An ancient title for the Pope, who is the Vicar of Christ, is “servant of the servants of Christ.”

43 “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.  45 For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Jesus again identifies Himself in this verse as Isaiah’s “Suffering Servant” (see the First Reading). The ransom Jesus pays with His life will bring about the justification and liberation of many and recalls the prophecy of Isaiah 53:12 ~ Because he surrendered himself to death and was counted among the wicked, and he shall take away the sins of many, and win pardon for their offenses.  His service will be His sacrificial death by which He won pardon for the sins of all who call upon Him for the forgiveness of their sins (also see 1 Tim 2:6 and 1 Pt 2:23-24; CCC 536608).

Excerpts from Michal E. Hunt’s Agape Bible Study. Material slightly reformatted. Used with permission.

29th Sunday of Year B

SOURCE: The Sunday Website at Saint Louis University: This website is a service of the Catholic Studies Centre at Saint Louis University, Matthew Baugh, SJ, Director; John Foley, SJ, Editor; Eleonore Stump, Coordinator; JC McCollum, Webmaster
SCRIPTURE IN DEPTH

Preaching the Lectionary

by Reginald H. Fuller

If we ask, “was our Lord subject to sexual temptation?” —we are asking a question that the New Testament is not concerned to ask.


THE WORD EMBODIED

Lording It Over the Rest

by John Kavanaugh, SJ

The human Jesus aspired to smallness. Oddly, even his divinity sought to be emptied out.


HISTORICAL CULTURAL CONTEXT

Acquiring Honor

by John J. Pilch

Since Jesus is the acknowledged leader of this group, he can do a favor for individual members and grant them privileges that would make them stand out in relationship to others.


LET THE SCRIPTURES SPEAK

Jesus, Lay High Priest

by Dennis Hamm, SJ

Jesus is the only one among his group (teacher and disciples) to whom the name “priest” is applied in the New Testament.


SPIRITUALITY OF THE READINGS

Ask?

by John Foley, SJ

Maybe loss, death and suffering are not the worst thing for us, even though they certainly seem to be.


GLANCING THOUGHTS

Glory, Glory, Hallelujah

by Eleonore Stump

God gave the great gift that James and John wanted, not to any of the apostles, but to two unknown, low-down, petty criminals.


THE PERSPECTIVE OF JUSTICE

The Greatest Sacrifice

by Gerald Darring

Our Lord and Master calls us to be a community of service.


Ideas for General Intercessions

by Joe Milner

Ideas designed to be starting points for the prayers of a particular community of faith.

SOURCE: The Sunday Website at Saint Louis University: This website is a service of the Catholic Studies Centre at Saint Louis University, Matthew Baugh, SJ, Director; John Foley, SJ, Editor; Eleonore Stump, Coordinator; JC McCollum, Webmaster

29th Sunday of Year B

LIFE RECOVERY NOTES

Suffering in God’s Will

ISAIAH 53:7-12 It was not easy for Jesus the Messiah to bear such abuse and shame—and it was wholly undeserved! The outcome, however, was a ministry that would change the world.

This is the same pattern we can expect. When we suffer in God’s will for doing what is right, we can be assured that God will use it to minister to others and will vindicate us in due time, either in this life or the next.

SOURCE: Content taken from THE LIFE RECOVERY BIBLE notes by Stephen Arterburn & David Stoop. Copyright © 1998, 2017. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.

PREACHER’S COMMENTARY

The Standard of Power

Word leaks out that James and John are conspiring for the top positions in the coming kingdom. Their ambition has isolated Peter and caused jealousy among the other disciples. A power struggle threatens to destroy all the work that Jesus has done to weld the Twelve into a unified, working body. He has to nip the rebellion in the bud. Calling the Twelve together, Jesus talks to them about the standard of power which the Gentiles use to determine greatness. Touching on the tender spot of men who have been ground under the heel of Roman oppression, Jesus reminds them of the Gentile rulers who use their power to “lord it over” them. His point is well taken. The disciples know that they have fallen victim to the same corrupting power that they suffer from the Romans, and they want none of it.

Power as the standard of greatness is still corrupting. We fail to realize that power is a limited commodity. There is only so much to go around. Those who are in power want to protect their position; those who are out of power always want more. The prediction is sure. If power is a standard of greatness in any church or Christian organization, ambition will rule and jealousy will reign.


PREACHER’S COMMENTARY

The Standard of Servanthood

Jesus is in the business of upsetting all the accepted standards of the world. Categorically rejecting rank and power, He establishes servanthood as His standard of greatness. By rank, a servant is last of all. In power, a servant has none.

“Service” is too impersonal and too limited a term to describe the standard of greatness set by Jesus for His disciples. In a single sentence that rises like a mountain peak above all previous statements about His purpose, Jesus personalizes “servanthood” as the standard of greatness when He says, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (v. 45). Greatness is not to be sought; if it comes, it comes through giving. Life magazine carried an editorial comparing the lives of great people, such as Winston Churchill, Pope John XXIII, and Albert Schweitzer. None of them aspired to greatness as his primary goal. Each of them sacrificed himself in order to be a servant of the people. According to the conclusion of the editorial, they were great because they chose first to be good.

Ultimate good rules the servanthood of Jesus. Without rank and without power, He gives up His life as “a ransom for many.” College students often seek counsel concerning their future careers. Almost without exception, they want to know how they can “serve.” Sometimes, “service” is mixed with salary, status, and security. Seldom is the risk of service fully considered, and even less often do the students think forward to the lasting benefits and the ever-expanding circle of those whom they will serve. The perspective is too big and too distant for youthful minds to grasp. They need an example, not advice. Greatness is theirs if they follow the Son of Man who “did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

SOURCE: Excerpt taken from THe Preacher’s Commentary, Complete 35-Volume Set: Genesis–Revelation offers pastors, teachers, and Bible study leaders clear and compelling insights into the entire Bible that will equip them to understand, apply, and teach the truth in God’s Word.
MARK: THE GOSPEL OF PASSION

“You Don’t Know What You Are Asking”

In ancient culture, the seat at someone’s right was reserved as the position of honor. The left-hand seat was for an intimate friend. In the least, this is a grotesquely inappropriate request. At most, it is a power play.

Jesus knows who will someday be at his right and left hand outside the walls of Jerusalem: two thieves hanging on crosses. “You don’t know what you’re asking,” he says over his shoulder as he walks up the steep hill (Mk 10:38). In his value system, glory is a result of enduring suffering. Jesus asks if they can drink his cup and be baptized with his baptism. With thrones still blinding their eyes, they respond, “We are able” (Mk 10:39).

How supremely sad it must have been sometimes to know all that Jesus knew. These two brothers would be the first and the last to die for his sake. So he is forced to agree with them. But Jesus will claim no authority that does not belong to him. And so he pushes their question aside. The other ten disciples are understandably upset when they hear what James and John have asked. Jesus, knowing there is no time for dissension among them, understands that it is imperative that they pull together.

SOURCE: Excerpt taken from MARK: THE GOSPEL OF PASSION (THE BIBLICAL IMAGINATION SERIES)
FEASTING ON THE GOSPELS, MARK

‘The Drum Major Instinct’

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. preached his last sermon, “The Drum Major Instinct,” exactly two months to the day before his death. The sermon, based on this text from Mark,

On February 4, 1968, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. preached his last sermon, “The Drum Major Instinct,” exactly two months to the day before his death. The sermon, based on this text from Mark, speaks powerfully and perceptively about the human desire to be out in front leading the parade. In our case it may be desiring the limelight, the front page of the newspaper, the lead story on MSNBC, or the position as lead pastor of one of the largest congregations in town. Few of us are immune to this “drum major instinct.”

This same desire appears to drive James and John, the sons of Zebedee, in this text from Mark. The brothers have the nerve to ask Jesus for special seating in glory. These two brothers request special seats, not in the back of the room but in the front of the room, to the right and the left of Jesus in glory (vv. 35–37).

It is interesting that James and John think to request such a thing. Instead of their mother asking on their behalf, as she does in Matthew 20:20, James and John are bold enough to ask the favor of Jesus themselves. Where I come from, this is called “getting a big head” or “being full of oneself.” My grandfather would have said James and John were “getting too big for their britches.” In any case, this request is problematic because it profoundly misunderstands what Jesus has just said about himself in 10:32–34 and what he says in this passage, 10:35–45.

Jesus says, “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many” (v. 45). James and John have misunderstood the purpose of Jesus’ life and ministry. Their request is for a political or governmental appointment in a presidential administration. The brothers’ request of Jesus to sit at his right hand and his left is a political move, a request for positions of power. Sadly, they miss the mission that Jesus was sent to fulfill. Jesus was not sent to establish a government that would attack its enemies to maintain its power. On the contrary, Jesus was sent to bring about a nonviolent movement that would halt the evil systems and structures of the day. Jesus was sent to bring in a new order with the real possibility of peace, joy, and love for those who would choose to follow him…

SOURCE: Excerpt taken from Feasting on the GOspels Complete Seven-Volume Set

Bible Study Apps

Verbum Catholic Bible Software

TecartaBible Premium is a subscription service that offers unlimited access to the most popular Study Bibles, Commentaries, and Devotionals.

Olive Tree Bible Software

29th Sunday of Year B

MARK 10:35–40

35. And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, come unto him, saying, Master, we would that thou shouldest do for us whatsoever we shall desire.

36. And he said unto them, What would ye that I should do for you?

37. They said unto him, Grant unto us that we may sit, one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left hand, in thy glory.

38. But Jesus said unto them, Ye know not what ye ask: can ye drink of the cup that I drink of? and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?

39. And they said unto him, We can. And Jesus said unto them, Ye shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of; and with the baptism that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized:

40. But to sit on my right hand and on my left hand is not mine to give; but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared.

ANNOTATED INDEX

Third Century

  • Origen – Alexandrian biblical critic, exegete, theologian, and spiritual writer; analyzed the Scriptures on three levels: the literal, the moral, and the allegorical
  • Cyprian – pagan rhetorician converted to Christianity; acquired acquired a profound knowledge of the Scriptures and the writings of Tertullian; elected bishop of Carthage; martyred in 258

Fourth Century

  • Eusebius – Bishop of Caesarea; author of Ecclesiastical History, the principal source for the history of Christianity from the Apostolic Age till his own day; also wrote a valuable work on Biblical topography called the Onomasticon
  • Athanasius – Bishop of Alexandria; attended the Council of Nicea; opposed Arianism, in defence of the faith proclaimed at Nicaea—that is, the true deity of God the Son
  • Hilary – Bishop of Poitiers; the earliest known writer of hymns in the Western Church; defended the cause of orthodoxy against Arianism; became the leading Latin theologian of his age
  • Gregory of Nazianzus – one of the “Cappadocian Fathers”; a great influence in restoring the Nicene faith and leading to its final establishment at the Council of Constantinople in 381
  • Gregory of Nyssa – one of the “Cappadocian Fathers”; Bishop of Nyssa; took part in the Council of Constantinople
  • Ambrose – Bishop of Milan; partly responsible for the conversion of Augustine; author of Latin hymns; it was through his influence that hymns became an integral part of the liturgy of the Western Church
  • Jerome – biblical scholar; devoted to a life of asceticism and study; his greatest achievement was his translation of the Bible into Latin (the Vulgate); also wrote many biblical commentaries
  • Nemesius – Christian philosopher; Bishop of Emesa in Syria
  • Augustine – Bishop of Hippo (in northern Africa); a “Doctor of the Church”; most famous work is his Confessions; his influence on the course of subsequent theology has been immense
  • Chrysostom – Bishop of Constantinople; a “Doctor of the Church”; a gifted orator; his sermons on Gen, Ps, Isa, Matt, John, Acts, and the Pauline Epistles (including Hebrews) established him as the greatest of Christian expositors
  • Prosper of Aquitaine – theologian; supporter of Augustinian doctrines; closely associated with Pope Leo I (“the Great”)
  • Damasus – pope; active in suppressing heresy
  • Apollinaris of Laodicea – Bishop of Laodicea; close friend of Athanasias; vigorous advocate of orthodoxy against the Arians
  • Amphilochius of Iconium – Bishop of Iconium; close friend of the Cappadocian Fathers; defended the full Divinity of the Holy Spirit

Fifth Century

  • Asterius of Amasea – Arian theologian; some extant homilies on the Psalms attributed to him
  • Evagrius Ponticus – spiritual writer; noted preacher at Constantinople; spent the last third of his life living a monastic life in the desert
  • Isidore of Pelusium – an ascetic and exegete; his extant correspondence contains much of doctrinal, exegetical, and moral interest
  • Cyril of Alexandria – Patriarch of Alexandria; contested Nestorius; put into systematic form the classical Greek doctrines of the Trinity and of the Person of Christ
  • Maximus of Turin – Bishop of Turin; over 100 of his sermons survive
  • Cassion (prob. Cassian) – one of the great leaders of Eastern Christian monasticism; founded two monasteries near Marseilles; best known books the Institutes and the Conferences
  • Chrysologus – Bishop of Ravenna; a “Doctor of the Church”
  • Basil “the Great” – one of the “Cappadocian Fathers”; Bishop of Caesarea; responsible for the Arian controversy’s being put to rest at the Council of Constantinople
  • Theodotus of Ancyra – Bishop of Ancyra; wrote against the teaching of Nestorius
  • Leo the Great – Pope who significantly consolidated the influence of the Roman see; a “Doctor of the Church”; his legates defended Christological orthodoxy at the Council of Chalcedon
  • Gennadius – Patriarch of Constantinople; the author of many commentaries, notably on Genesis, Daniel, and the Pauline Epistles
  • Victor of Antioch – presbyter of Antioch; commentator and collector of earlier exegetical writings
  • Council of Ephesus – declared the teachings of Nestorious heretical, affirming instead the unity between Christ’s human and divine natures
  • Nilus – Bishop of Ancyra; disciple of St John Chrysostom; founder of a monastery; conducted a large correspondence influencing his contemporaries; his writings deal mainly with ascetic and moral subjects

Sixth Century

  • Dionysius Areopagita (aka Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite) – mystical theologian; combined Neoplatonism with Christianity; the aim of all his works is the union of the whole created order with God
  • Gregory the Great – Pope; a “Doctor of the Church”; very prolific writer of works on practical theology, pastoral life, expositions of Job, sermons on the Gospels, etc.
  • Isidore – Bishop of Seville; a “Doctor of the Church”; concerned with monastic discipline, clerical education, liturgical uniformity, conversion of the Jews; helped secure Western acceptance of Filioque clause
  • Eutychius (Patriarch of Constan­tinople) – consecrated the church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople; defended the Chalcedonian faith against an unorthodox sect; became controversial later in life
  • Isaac (Bp. of Nineveh) (aka Isaac the Syrian) – monastic writer on ascetic subjects
  • Severus (Bp. of Antioch) – Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch; the leading theologian of the moderate Monophysites
  • John Climacus – ascetic and writer on the spiritual life; later Abbot of Mt. Sinai; best known for his Ladder of Divine Ascent which treats of the monastic virtues and vices
  • Fulgentius – Bishop of Ruspe in N. Africa; scholarly disposition; follower of St. Augustine; wrote many treatises against Arianism and Pelagianism

Seventh Century

  • Maximus ( of Constantinople, 645.) – Greek theologian; prolific writer on doctrinal, ascetical, exegetical, and liturgical subjects

Eighth Century

  • Bede (131CESK) – “the Venerable Bede”; a “Doctor of the Church”; pedagogue, biblical exegete, hagiographer, and historian, the most influential scholar from Anglo-Saxon England
  • John Damascene – Greek theologian; a “Doctor of the Church”; defender of images in the Iconoclastic Controversy; expounded the doctrine of the perichoresis (circumincession) of the Persons of the Trinity
  • Alcuin – Abbot of St. Martin’s (Tours); a major contributor to the Carolingian Renaissance; supervised the production of several complete editions of the Bible; responsible for full acceptance of the Vulgate in the West

Ninth Century

  • Haymo (of Halberstadt) – German Benedictine monk who became bishop of Halberstadt; prolific writer
  • Photius (of Constantinople) – Patriarch of Constantinople; a scholar of wide interests and encyclopedic knowledge; his most important work, Bibliotheca, is a description of several hundred books (many now lost), with analyses and extracts; also wrote a Lexicon
  • Rabanus Maurus – Abbot of Fulda in Hess Nassau; later Archbishop of Mainz; wrote commentaries on nearly every Book of the Bible
  • Remigius (of Auxerre) monk, scholar, and teacher
  • Paschasius Radbertus – Carolingian theologian; wrote commentaries on Lamentations and Matthew, as well as the first doctrinal monograph on the Eucharist, he maintained the real Presence of Christ

Eleventh Century

  • Theophylact – Byzantine exegete; his principal work, a series of commentaries on several OT books and on the whole of the NT except Revelation, is marked by lucidity of thought and expression and closely follows the scriptural text
  • Anselm – Archbishop of Canterbury; a “Doctor of the Church”; highly regarded teacher and spiritual director; famous ontological argument for the existence of God as “that than which nothing greater can be thought”
  • Petrus Alphonsus – Jewish Spanish writer and astronomer, a convert to Christianity; one of the most important figures in anti-Judaic polemics
  • Laufranc (prob. Lanfranc) – Archbishop of Canterbury; commented on the Psalms and Pauline Epistles; his biblical commentary passed into the Glossa Ordinaria

COMMENTARY

CHRYSOSTOM. (v. Chrys. ubi sup.) The disciples hearing Christ oftentimes speaking of His kingdom, thought that this kingdom was to be before His death, and therefore now that His death was foretold to them, they came to Him, that they might immediately be made worthy of the honours of the kingdom: wherefore it is said, And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came unto him, saying, Master, we would that thou shouldest do for us whatsoever we shall desire. For ashamed of the human weakness which they felt, they came to Christ, taking Him apart from the disciples; but our Saviour, not from ignorance of what they wanted to ask, but from a wish of making them answer Him, puts this question to them; And he said unto them, What would ye that I should do for you?

THEOPHYLACT. Now the abovementioned disciples thought that He was going up to Jerusalem, to reign there, and then to suffer what He had foretold. And with these thoughts, they desired to sit on the right and the left hand; wherefore there follows, They said unto him, Grant unto us that we may sit, one on thy right hand, the other on thy left hand, in thy glory.

AUGUSTINE. (de Con. Evan. ii. 64) Matthew has expressed that this was said not by themselves, but by their mother, since she brought their wishes to the Lord; wherefore Mark briefly implies rather that they themselves, than that their mother, had used the words.

CHRYSOSTOM. (ubi sup.) Or we may fitly say that both took place; for seeing themselves honoured above the rest, they thought that they could easily obtain the foregoing petition; and that they might the more easily succeed in their request, they took their mother with them, that they might pray unto Christ together with her.

AUGUSTINE. (ubi sup.) Then the Lord both according to Mark, and to Matthew, answered them rather than their mother. For it goes on, But Jesus said unto them, Ye know not what ye ask.

THEOPHYLACT. It will not be as ye think, that I am to reign as a temporal king in Jerusalem, but all these things, that is, these which belong to My kingdom, are beyond your understanding; for to sit on My right hand is so great a thing that it surpasses the Angelic orders.

BEDE. (ubi sup.) Or else, they know not what they ask, who seek from the Lord a seat of glory, which they do not yet merit.

CHRYSOSTOM. (ubi sup.) Or else He says, Ye know not what ye ask; as if He said, Ye speak of honours, but I am discoursing of wrestlings and toil; for this is not a time of rewards, but of blood, of battles, and dangers. Wherefore He adds, Can ye drink of the cup that I drink of, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized withal? He draws them on by way of question, that by communication with Himself, their eagerness might increase.

THEOPHYLACT. But by the cup and baptism, He means the cross; the cup, that is, as being a potion by Him sweetly received, but baptism as the cause of the cleansing of our sins. And they answer Him, without understanding what He had said; wherefore it goes on: And they said unto him, We can; for they thought that He spoke of a visible cup, and of the baptism of which the Jews made use, that is, the washings before their meals.

CHRYSOSTOM. (ubi sup.) And they answered thus quickly, because they expected that what they had asked would be listened to; it goes on: And Jesus said unto them, Ye shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of, and with the baptism that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized; t at is, ye shall be worthy of martyrdom, and suffer even as I.

BEDE. (ubi sup.) A question is raised, however, how James and John drank the cup of martyrdom, or how they were baptized with the baptism of the Lord, when the Scripture relates, that only James the Apostle was beheaded by Herod whilst John finished his life by a natural death. But if we read ecclesiastical histories, in which it is related, that he also on account of the witness which he bore was cast into a cauldron of burning oil, and was immediately sent away to the island of Patmos, we shall then see that the spirit of martyrdom was in him, and that John drank the cup of confession, which the Three Children also drank in the furnace of fire, though the persecutor did not spill their blood. It goes on: But to sit on my right hand and on my left hand is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared.

CHRYSOSTOM. (ubi sup.) Where two questions are raised, one is, whether a seat on His right hand is prepared for any one; the other, whether the Lord of all has it not in His power to give it to those for whom it is prepared. To the first then we say, that no one sits on His right hand or on His left, for that throne is inaccessible to a creature. How then did He say, To sit on my right hand or on my left is not mine to give you, as though it belonged to some who were to sit there? He however answers the thoughts of those who asked Him, condescending to their meaning; for they did not know that lofty throne and seat, which is on the right hand of the Father, but sought one thing alone, that is, to possess the chief place, and to be set over others. And since they had heard it said of the Apostles, that they were to sit on twelve thrones, they begged for a place higher than all the rest, not knowing what was said. To the second question we must say, that such a gift does not transcend the power of the Son of God, but what is said by Matthew (Matt. 20:23), it is prepared by My Father, is the same as if it were said, “by Me,” wherefore also Mark did not say here, by My Father. What therefore Christ says here is this, Ye shall die, He says, for Me, but this is not enough to enable you to obtain the highest place, for if another person comes possessing besides martyrdom all other virtues, he will possess much more than you; for the chief place is prepared for those, who by works are enabled to become the first. Thus then the Lord instructed them not to trouble themselves vainly and absurdly for high places; at the same time He would not have them made sad.

BEDE. (ubi sup.) Or else, it is not mine to give to you, that is, to proud persons, for such as yet they were. It is prepared for other persons, and be ye other, that is, lowly, and it is prepared for you.

MARK 10:41–45

41. And when the ten heard it, they began to be much displeased with James and John.

42. But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them.

43. But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister:

44. And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.

45. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

COMMENTARY

THEOPHYLACT. The other Apostles are indignant at seeing James and John seeking for honour; wherefore it is said, And when the ten heard it, they began to be much displeased with James and John. For being influenced by human feelings, they were moved with envy; and their first displeasure arose from their seeing that they were not taken up by the Lord; before that time they were not displeased because they saw that they themselves were honoured before other men. At this time the Apostles were thus imperfect, but afterwards they yielded the chief place one to another. Christ however cures them; first indeed by drawing them to Himself in order to comfort them; and this is meant, when it is said, But Jesus called them to him; then by shewing them that to usurp honour, and to desire the chief place, belongs to Gentiles. Wherefore there follows: And saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship; and their great ones exercise authority over them. The great ones of the Gentiles thrust themselves into the chief place tyrannically and as lords. It goes on: But so shall it not be among you.

BEDE. (ubi sup.) In which He teaches, that he is the greater, who is the less, and that he becomes the lord, who is servant of all: vain, therefore, was it both for the one party to seek for immoderate things, aud the other to be annoyed at their desiring greater things, since we are to arrive at the height of virtue not by power but by humility. Then He proposes an example, that if they lightly regarded His words, His deeds might make them ashamed, saying, For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

THEOPHYLACT. Which is a greater thing than to minister. For what can be greater or more wonderful than that a man should die for him to whom he ministers? Nevertheless, this serving and condescension of humility was His glory, and that of all; for before He was made man, He was known only to the Angels; but now that He has become man and has been crucified, He not only has glory Himself, but also has taken up others to a participation in His glory, and ruled by faith over the whole world.

BEDE. (ubi sup.) He did not say, however, that He gave His life a ransom for all, but for many, that is, for those who would believe on Him.

SOURCE: eCatholic 2000 Commentary in public domain.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *