29th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B
To you I call; for you will surely heed me, O God
Almighty ever-living God,
grant that we may always conform our will to yours
and serve your majesty in sincerity of heart.
In today’s readings, the themes of discipleship and suffering that we have been pondering in recent weeks are again repeated.
The ‘Suffering Servant’ text of the First Reading tells of the prophet Isaiah ministering to the captives in Babylon and proclaiming a message that was not well received. The servant would be rejected and suffer because of it, but through his sufferings would ‘justify many’. It foreshadows the fullness of servanthood accepted by Jesus on our behalf. Through his suffering, he takes all our faults onto himself.
In the Second Reading, Jesus the high priest replaces the human priest of the Temple. Jesus is both priest and victim, and though without sin, he is like us in every way. By his death and resurrection he justifies us in the sight of God, and the throne of grace and mercy is opened to all. We can call on him with great confidence whenever we need help, trusting that in his humanity, he knows all that we go through, including our temptations.
The Gospel shows two disciples approaching this source of grace and mercy – but for their own personal gain rather than for loving service. It is the latter way that Jesus highlights as the true way, and the path he will walk as high priest.
As in today’s Psalm, we can offer our own prayer of praise for this way, which opens to us the gifts of mercy and grace.