29th Sunday in Ordinary Time - World Mission Sunday
World Mission Sunday
There are many things that make Chicago a world-class city.
Many of those things are good.
They enhance the lives of the people who live here:
culture and the arts,
the diversity of our neighborhoods,
Lake Michigan, our universities, etc.
Other things aren’t so good.
We tolerate them,
and we wouldn’t miss them if they disappeared.
One of those things is traffic.
There are certain times of day when I dread driving on 55th Street,
where our church is located.
From about 6:00 to 9:00 in the morning,
the street is clogged with cars, trucks and buses.
Most of them are heading east.
Then from about 2:00 until 6:00 in the afternoon and evening,
the process is repeated, with most of the cars heading west.
During those times of day,
the traffic on 55th Street just crawls.
I spend a lot of time praying for patience and safety!
While this traffic is certainly inconvenient and frustrating,
it is also a sign of life.
Could we even see it as a sign of greatness?
People are going to work, school and other places
not only to better themselves
but to also improve the lives of others.
Parents go to work early in the morning
and return home at night
not merely to get a paycheck and survive
but to also give their children opportunities that they never had.
Young people go to school
not only to get a good job one day
but to also make a difference in their communities.
Jesus tells us in today’s gospel reading
that greatness is not a matter of what we have
but rather what we give.
It’s not about the kind of car we drive,
but how many hours we spend on the road to take care of others.
It’s not how about who serves us
but how we serve them.
Its authority is rooted not in title or position
but instead in love.
It is self-sacrifice,
Jesus reminds his disciples that he
“did not come to be served but to serve
and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
He recalls the image of God’s servant
that we heard in our first reading,
one who literally becomes the scapegoat,
bearing the guilt of his people
and giving his life as a sin offering.
The author of the Letter to the Hebrews would later describe Jesus
as both the high priest and the lamb of sacrifice,
a double role of service.
Because of his total gift of himself,
we can “confidently approach the throne of grace
to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.”
None of us likes spending time in traffic.
But what if we used it to pray for others
in the cars and trucks around us?
They may be on the road to greatness! +