"Whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all."

This Sunday, October 21, 2012, Mark's Gospel passage depicts the disciples' response to Jesus' third passion prediction. Like the first two predictions, the disciples again appear to misunderstand what Jesus has told them. They are caught up with the ambition for power, glory and honor. Our Discussion Questions will guide your Sunday Bible Study with family, friends and church groups.

In this Gospel James and John are more concerned with the success of having highest positions of honor and power in the kingdom. In fact, Fr. Campion P. Gavaler, OSB reminds us that shortly before, Jesus had called Peter a Satan because Peter rebuked him when he began to talk about the suffering and death he would soon undergo.

The Twelve Were Imperfect, Ordinary Men

The naked ambition of James and John should be of much consolation to everyone of us. James Gilhooley says Mark is telling us that neither one of these gentlemen was a saint. And, Fr. Orly Sapuay, MS points out, the other ten did not understand any better. In fact, Fr. Jim Kirstein, SMA adds, one of Mark’s aims was to show us the disciples in their very human condition, warts and all. Eventually they would all abandon him.

And just like them, many of us today also want to be of service to God, and we want to be recognized as one of His favored followers. What we often are chasing in all of this - Fr. Ron Rolheiser cautions us - is notice and adulation so that we can be duly recognized and loved. So just like the twelve we are imperfect.

Msgr. Charles Pope tells us, however, that imperfection is something to be accepted with humility. We are ordinary, imperfect and we live in a seldom perfect world strife with loss, death and suffering. But these are not are not the worst thing for us, even though they certainly seem to be. Fr. John Foley, S. J. says the worst would be loss of love’s groundwork, the never-ending love of God.

Greatness in Humble Service

Jesus takes up the disciples’ ambitious attitude and, in fact, even enjoins them to aspire for greatness. But our Lord makes it clear, Fr. Omer Prieto points out, that such greatness is defined by humble service. Jesus in effect redefines greatness. Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio says the one who is greatest, and is most like God, is not the one who appears on the cover of People magazine. It is the one who will go to the greatest lengths for those who are least worthy and least grateful.

If we are to be followers of Jesus and be truly great, we must renounce placing any limits on how much we are willing to give or whom we are willing to serve. Because as, Father Cusick tells us, the door to the heavenly reign is through suffering and service. And it is not the Presider’s chair, the Bishop’s cathedra, the judge’s bench or the big chair in the Oval Office that confers true authority. Fr. Phil Bloom points out that true authority, true power comes from God.

The Year of Faith

We embark this month on the Year of Faith. Pope Benedict introduced this week a new series of catechesis meant to accompany the Church during the year-long celebration. Here is a translation of the pope's address. The Holy Father said it will be a year of catechesis dedicated to healing the rupture between what we profess and how we live our daily lives as believers in Christ and avoid "do it yourself religions".

In its essence, faith is an acceptance of what God has revealed about himself in Christ. Yet, Archbishop Richard W. Smith of Edmonton reminds us, we can sometimes find ourselves assuming that the reach of God's power does not extend beyond the parameters of our human judgment.

So how should we live this Year of Faith? The Bishops have suggested that we spend the next 365 days delving deeper into our relationship with Christ and her Church. That sounds fine enough, but how? Sherry Antonetti offers a few methods for turning this year of faith into a rich experience -- 100 ways, in fact. The goal is to grow so pick a few that will stretch your soul. I and steel your faith.

New Saints of the Church

Also a part of the October celebrations at the Vatican is the canonization of seven saints. We feature two of them today.

Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha (1656-1680), also known as Blessed Catherine Tekakwitha, is among those who will be canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on October 21. She was born at Ossernenon, near Auriesville, New York, USA. Her father was a Mohawk chief and her mother was a Catholic Algonquin. When Tekakwitha was eighteen, Father de Lamberville, a Jesuit missionary, came to Caughnawaga and established a chapel. At age twenty she was baptized and was given the name of Kateri, which is Mohawk for Catherine. Kateri is known as "Lily of the Mohawks" or "Beautiful Flower Among True Men." Read her martyrdom story here.

Pope Benedict XVI will also canonize Blessed Pedro Calungsod who gave his life for the faith on April 2, 1672, in Guam. Calungsod was a Filipino lay catechist born in 1654 and was doing a missionary work in Guam. Blessed John Paul II beatified him on March 5, 2000. The saint has been referred to as intercessor for the young.

Catholics & the 2012 Elections

The election fever hits a fever pitch as we wind down to the last two weeks of campaigning. But the internet age has created a real problem: too much information, not enough meaning. That means the real skill now is learning how to pick out the useful information from all this noise. However, Simcha Fisher tells us that we are never to lose track of the difference between Catholic context and Catholic noise. The Church is specific where she needs to be, and broad where she knows people need room to act according to their consciences. The Church speaks on behalf of God, who knows hearts.

Meanwhile, if you watched the vice presidential debate, you must have scratched your head when Vice President Joe Biden stated "as fact" that the HHS mandate does not infringe on religious freedom. Not unexpectedly, the U.S. bishops immediately criticized him for an “inaccurate statement of fact” about the HHS mandate’s impact on religious institutions.

Happy Husbands and Great Mother in Laws

Jennifer Fulwiler must have been first in line when God was handing out mothers-in-law. She said she managed to get one who has always been a great mother-in-law. She shares with us the most important three things her mother in law did, especially in those first few years of her marriage to her husband, that really helped set a great tone for years to come

While Katie Sciba talks about her husband. She says though women wonder what men want, she can tell you with ZERO hesitation or uncertainty that what her husband Andrew wants. What he really wants – she says – is a happy, attentive, supportive wife. From her side of things, life goes along more merrily when her hard-workin’ breadwinner is content all around.And from his perspective, she can only imagine the pleasantness of coming home to pleasantness.

Hollywood Rediscovers Faith

Lured by public-domain source material and epic adventure stories ripe for big-time special effects, studios and filmmakers are rediscovering the Good Book. And so when it sets sail in the coming film "Noah," a massive 148-foot wooden ark will carry not only a slew of zoo animals, but one of Hollywood's biggest wagers in years. "Noah," a $125 million epic from Viacom's Paramount Pictures, starring Russell Crowe and directed by Darren Aronofsky, is one of a boatload of religious films in the works from major movie studios.

Also on the Hollywood front, Jerry Mathers, the "Leave it to Beaver" star of the 50s and 60s, recently returned to his hometown, Sioux City, Iowa to boost the cause of Catholic education.  Mathers' family lived in Morningside and he was baptized at Immaculate Conception. Today, he lends his name to many non-profit causes. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and says his Catholic education has helped guide him over the years. "It gives a child a different perspective than a public education, and one that I believe in," said Mathers who also sent his three children to Catholic school.

Another eventful week in our Catholic World. Have a great and blessed new week.

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief

BURNING QUESTION: Is it OK to just not vote?
FEATURED BLOG: 100 Ways to Live this Year of Faith
PASTORAL HISPANA: El servicio no hace semejantes a Dios

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