Gospel Reflections

29th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Mark 10:35-45

Sunday Gospel Reflection by Sister Sharon McMillan

Published: October 18, 2015


The assembly of over 700 sang and smiled, clapping  along with the joyous spirit of the prelude song, “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and glad!” Thirteen Sisters of Notre Dame, celebrating their Jubilees, celebrating the anniversaries of their initial commitment to Christ and his people through our Congregation, walked into the church, surrounded by other Sisters, by family, by friends, by co-workers. It was a day that appeared to be the perfect fulfillment of what the disciples James and John asked Jesus in today’s Gospel – to be seated immediately next to Christ when he comes in glory.

But in reality, this Jubilee day embodied Jesus’ vision of greatness and glory: “whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant.”  The 735 years represented by those 13 Sisters were years of service, years of “drinking the cup” of suffering that Jesus drank, years of giving their lives as Jesus did. And the surrender to which Jesus invited them through their poverty, chastity and obedience was transformed into the profound gifts of joy, peace, and abundant life.

It was easy to see on their faces how this unique form of life in Christ (their lives as Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur) blessed them with abundant gifts beyond what they had ever hoped for or imagined. Their commitment drew them into communities, neighborhoods, ministries, and relationships that they would never have dreamed possible.

On their first days in religious life (75, 70, 60, 50, or 40 years earlier), these Sisters stood before superiors and community members and said a whole-hearted “yes.”  Their response was much like that of James and John, spontaneously proclaiming “we can,” when Jesus asks whether they can drink his cup. Jesus realizes that James and John  “do not know what they are asking.”  Throughout many years, the Jubilarians continue to choose to “serve and not to be served.”  They find that self-surrender is the gift that St. Julie often spoke of: “the joy of the cross.”

So this celebration of Christ’s dying and rising is so clearly incarnated in the lives of these women religious: Helen, Barbara, Bernice, Peggy, Joan, Jacinta, Sharonann, Sharon, Nancy, Louise, Liane, Theresa, and another Sharon. We too lift our hearts and remind ourselves of who we are and to whom we belong. This Gospel and a celebration of Jubilees deepen our own commitment to Christ through our Baptismal vows.  So, we do sing every day “this is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad!”

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