Sunday, October 21, 2018

Loyalty. Rewarded (2018-10-21, Sunday-29)

21 October 2018   //  29th Sunday Ordinary Time, Year B

•Isaiah 53:10-11•Psalm 33•Hebrews 4:14-16 •+ Mark 10:35-45 

••       Title:   Loyalty. Rewarded

          You and I expect our loyalty to be recognized and rewarded.
          This is the logic of loyalty.
          And, it also works this way in the marketplace, in monetary and material things.
          For example, at one point in the history of AIRLINE TRAVEL, a new device was invented to get more people to buy more airline tickets and go further.
          This ‘device’ may makes us feel more comfortable and – in some cases – reduce the FEAR OF FLYING.
          What is this great device?
          It’s not on the plane exactly. It’s the frequent-flyer miles program that is also known as the LOYALTY program.
          So, if you fly, say, 6 or 7 times from New York to Florida or California you can receive - be rewarded - a free ticket – for your LOYALTY.
          At one point, in my flying history, I received an upgrade to 1st Class on a plane and felt particularly proud of myself because the NBA basketball star, Patrick Ewing formerly of the New York Knicks, was on the same flight, also in 1st Class.
          We did not sit together, but it was enough for me to tell family and friends about it. I was told to “get over it” because this was only a 32 minute flight from Newark to Washington DC, hardly long enough to enjoy anything in 1st Class.  Talk to us when you go to Europe or something.

[__02_WHAT-WHO? (J+J)…]  
          LOYALTY is a big deal, not only to Jesus, but also to James and John in the Gospel.
          The apostles – the 2 brothers and sons of Zebedee – have been travelling all these years with Jesus.
          And, recently they have come to understand – and keep track of 2 things –
1.    REWARD
          [REWARD] There is a reward being offered to the disciples, a reward described by Jesus in the Gospel – earlier in Mark Chapter 10  of last Sunday … “Amen, I say to you,  there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the gospel who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age: houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come."  (Mark 10: 29- 30)
          There is also an expiration date of which James and John are very aware.
          [EXPIRATION DATE] And, they are also looking at their calendars, recalling what Jesus said in Mark, Chapter 8.
          Regarding “expiration”,
the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and rise after three days.”  (Mark 8: ___)
          And, if there is an EXPIRATION DATE for a reward, this motivates us right.  I don’t have any frequent flyer miles anymore…and, if I fly with Patrick Ewing today,  no one would care. I would have to tell you I was on the plane with Steph Curry or LeBron James.
          As a result, they want to collect their reward NOW.  They have been loyal. Now, they want to get paid.

[__03_WHAT-WHO? (tú y yo)…]  
          You and I also expect that LOYALTY will be rewarded, or will have a reward.
          But, in the reward in relationships is different than the reward at the United Airlines ticket counter.
          For example, the reward of being a mother, father, grandparent,
calls us to focus on a person(s) each of whom may require a different type of loyalty or affection.
          Nevertheless, this loyalty helps us to continue a journey, to remain committed to the journey.
          And, as we receive rewards – or rack up miles, spiritually – we are not simply called to bank them or hoard them, but to use them.

[__05_NOW WHAT]    I suggest this based on the writing of John Henry Newman about this Gospel in which he reminds us that all of us are called not to GUARANTEES of faith, but to the RISKS / VENTURES of faith. (Book IV, Sermon 20, “The Ventures of Faith”, Parochial & Plain Sermons).
               In the letter to the Hebrews also, we read that faith is a venture because it is the “realizing of things hoped for the warrant of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1).

[__06_]  For example, while we might say that ¨HONESTY IS THE BEST POLICY¨  and that following God´s commandments are a safe boundary, does not such loyalty and truthfulness also call us to take risks?
          For example, to speak the truth – today about the sanctity of human life and how this calls us to regard not only  the life we can see around us, but also the life we cannot see, the child waiting to be born or the elderly person who may be very infirm.

          Loyalty is a risk. The truth is a risk.

          As another example of truth and loyalty being risky, consider that we are called to avoid condemnation or rash judgment.

          St. Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuits wrote it this way, that when we avoid rash judgment – or condemnation – we are living in the truth, we are loyal to Christ and to the commandments of truthfulness in ¨Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness¨ --

          ¨ Every good Christian ought to be more ready to give a favorable interpretation to another's statement than to condemn it. But if he cannot do so, let him ask how the other understands it. And if the latter understands it badly, let the former correct him with love. If that does not suffice, let the Christian try all suitable ways to bring the other to a correct interpretation so that he may be saved.¨  (St. Ignatius of Loyola, Spiritual Exercises, 22.)

          That´s loyalty. The journey of loyalty, of many miles, both risk and reward.         [__fin_]   

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