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EMPTY YOURSELF AS JESUS DOES

Father Francis's picture
Ninth Week of Ordinary Time

Ecclus. 36:1, 4-5, 10-17 & Mk.10:32-45

Today's first reading was written around 175 BC during the time of Greek domination in the Middle East. Although the Greeks made a tremendous contribution to culture and knowledge, they did not know the only true God. The cult of the body was popular and promiscuity was rife. Israel was slowly being assimilated into this culture and losing faith in God's promises. It was at such a time as this that God raised up Ben Sira, the author of Sirach, to be the voice calling Israel back to His presence. Moved by the Spirit, he reminded them of all that God had done in their midst. He foresaw the need for the devout ones to stand up to their Greek oppressors and maintain a separate and holy identity. In his prayer, Ben Sira cried out to God to rally His people.

We too live in a culture that vainly seeks fulfilment from the things of this world, while ignoring the commandments of God. We too cry out for the Lord to have mercy. Just as Ben Sira prayed for the tribes of Israel to be reunited, we can pray that the Lord reunites all Christians into one body that manifests His glory to the world. We can pray that God would accomplish signs, wonders and miracles through His people and that the nations would come to believe in Him and receive His salvation.

The apostles James and John asked Jesus in today's Gospel if He would allow them to sit one on His right and the other on His left in His kingdom. How easy it can be for us to approach Jesus in the Eucharist in the same way - with a wish-list but with no connection to the honour and glory of God. If we really want to know how to approach Jesus at Mass perhaps we should see how He approaches us.

The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many". At every Mass Jesus is the victim Whose body is broken for us. He is the One stooping down before us and scrubs the dust from our feet. His relentless gaze exposes the deepest needs of our hearts and stands ready to fill them. He is the One inviting us to take up our cross and follow Him on the road of trust and obedience.

Instead of coming to the Eucharist with a list of petitions or asking Jesus to fill us with blessings, try offering to Jesus everything we have: our talents and our accomplishments. Come to Him the way He comes to us - giving instead of receiving. We will be amazed at how much heavenly grace will flow into our lives. Just like Jesus, we will be lifted up by our Father in Heaven.

Jesus, help us to empty ourselves, and admit our deep need to receive Your unconditional love. Make our highest ambition to be a fellow servant with You in the household of faith.

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