TWENTY NINTH SUNDAY- Year B – 21 October

“Since we have a great high priest … Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.” These are the opening words of THIS SUNDAY’S NEW TESTAMENT READING [HEBREWS 4: 14 – 16].

In the recent past I completed a series of four Sunday sermons focussing on FAITH – and the need to make it our own, a valuable and personal possession – together with the challenge to bring this faith (in which the centrality of Jesus Christ must be paramount) to our Sunday Eucharist, and integrate everything into WORD and SACRAMENT.

Take another look at the words of Scripture quoted at the outset of this reflection. Notice the fact that the scripture challenges us “to hold fast our confession.”It does not ask us to hold fast TOour confession. My faith is not outside of me, something separate. It is a PART OF ME, a part my celebration of Eucharist.

This faith, MY confession, breeds the essential element of TRUST which empowers me to proclaim, in the words of THIS SUNDAY’S ENTRANCE ANTIPHON, “guard me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings.”This faith only becomes a reality If God-in-Christ is part of MY (our) confession. If it is merely a confession outside of me, trust becomes almost impossible. It is only when faith is a living part of my life that I am able to acknowledge that it is the Lord who “prolongs my days” and whose will ensures that I “prosper in his hand.” [see today’s OLD TESTAMENT READING – ISAIAH 53: 10 – 11]. Do not overlook the significance of the fact that I prosper IN his hand. and not by or through his hand. I am in his hand, he is a part of me, and I am a part of him.

When such faith is REAL we are ready to KNOW that God “is our help and our shield” and I am fully prepared to wait on him[see THIS WEEK’S PSALM [33 or 32].

Our faith, to be real faith, must become a personal commitment – but such commitment does not only involve my person. It involves another person – the person of Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, Lord and Saviour. Faith, in its basics, involves ME and HIM. There is no escape from this fact. Now, have a good look at the Apostles’ Creed, and see clearly the matters we believe in because of our faith in him, our acceptance of and relationship with him. If you want a slightly more complicated version take a look at the Nicene Creed (the one we confess on most Sundays), and do feel free (as I do) in your private confessions of faith to omit the word men, and substitute consubstantial with the words one in being! Why complicate matters? IN THESE CREEDS WE SEE THE ESSENTIAL FAITH OF THE CHURCHno more, no less.

Here, it may be helpful to take another look at the extract from the Letter to the Hebrews. “We have not a high priest who is unable to sympathise with our weaknesses …. let us then with confidence draw near … receive mercy … and find help in time of need.”

How does this approach become possible if we do not enjoy a personal relationship with Jesus? In addition, we must discover the ability to move away from the awful Catholic syndrome of guilt! Why feel guilty if you disagree or are uncomfortable with something the Pope says (not teaches formally)?

Finally it is important for us to discern in THIS SUNDAY’S GOSPEL EXTRACT [MARK 10: 35 – 45] the fact that the apostles had not, even at that stage, yet developed the essential personal relationship with the Lord. They were still interested in ‘trappings’, favours and status. Jesus would wave his magic wand if they could ‘get him on their side’ – without the personal relationship and the basics.

And, do not be fooled by the “indignation”! This, too, was nothing more than self-righteousness and jealousy. To be ‘great’ you must be a servant. A servant of HIM!