homily by Sister Jeannie Masterson, CSJ

October 17, 2012
Is 53:10-11, Heb 4:14-16, Mk 10:35-45
“The NERVE of them! The nerve! How dare they? Surely they didn’t think they could get away
with that!” Can’t you just hear it?? James and John are bold enough to express their hopes,
and the other apostles are indignant. Maybe they secretly had the same expectation, but
lacked the audacity to voice it aloud.
The psychologist and spiritual writer Robert Wicks says that people who pray cautiously, live
cautiously, so he encourages us to pray boldly so as to live boldly. Just as in human
relationships, prayer is more intimate the more we are willing to reveal about ourselves.
Risking that the response might not be what we hope for, when we name our deepest desires,
we offer ourselves to the Other with great trust that we will be received with love. Might we
not imagine that James and John asked their question of Jesus from this frame of mind?
And look how Jesus responds! Unlike the other disciples, he isn’t indignant –Jesus is welcoming
of all sincere requests, no matter how misguided they may be. He invites James and John to go
deeper: do you understand what you’re asking? Are you willing to pay the price for what
you’re asking? Do you love deeply enough to pour out your life’s blood, to suffer intensely
because you love so much?
Are these not legitimate questions for discernment?
Over our lifetimes, have not we encountered similar skepticism, indignation and challenge –
sometimes as the recipient, sometimes as the skeptic? Let’s imagine a few possible scenarios
from the many in the room.
 Imagine! That Marybeth, thinking she can impact the immigration practices in Chicago –
and beyond!
 Janice, how dare you consider leaping from your tribunal secretary’s desk and becoming
a canon lawyer!
 What about Ginnie Yaeger – with stage 4 non-Hodgkins lymphoma, she volunteered for
a research treatment! Can you imagine??
 Damien, nurses are notorious for being the worst patients. You have some nerve,
shifting your personal life from healing pain as a nurse to enduring pain with such grace.
 Gerry, you upstart! You started out as the community cook and became the treasurer
of the whole Medaille congregation???
And Pat Brochart, after a lifetime of clerical work you jumped into ministry in a house
for women victims of domestic violence? What were you thinking???
Nina, oh, Nina - how ridiculous of you to risk your life – and our peace of mind - by going
to drug and violence infested Juarez for four months to be a witness for peace!
Kit Kiser and Mary Schrader, how arrogant of you to think that your elementary school
teaching experience qualified you for ministry in Peru and Alaska!
All you Jubilarians and CLT, how dare you assume that the church WANTS your
forgiveness, let alone that you have large enough hearts to actually love enough to
The entire Congregation of St. Joseph - what audacity to think that we can destabilize
the status quo by transforming systems of power and privilege, healing the earth, and
developing leadership in every person. How DARE we ask for so much grace???
And to think that even in our advancing years, we think we still have more contributions
to make, that God will open up the future in unexpected ways. Such audacity! Why
can’t we grow old quietly, as good sisters do, and not bother God with such outlandish
requests? We make James and John’s request look tame by comparison!
Whenever we encounter such attitudes, no matter how subtle, we’re challenged to think more
deeply about what it is we’re proposing. And as we’ve told our stories this weekend, we’ve
remembered the challenges and the sorrows as well as the treasures. Yes, we have drunk of
the cup Jesus drank. Yes, we’ve been baptized with his baptism – and both have emboldened
us for unselfish service. What lives we have lived, with what courage we have prayed, as
disciples of this Jesus! Bold prayer and bold lives demand courage, because love without
suffering is love without substance. There is much substance in this room, there is much love in
this room, there is much fidelity in this room. WE have given our servant lives as an offering,
we have gone beneath the pain, beneath the sorrow, and found the Rock of our salvation. We
have raised the chalice of our lives in every kind of weather, and just look what our God has
done is and through us! Such remembrances give us the heart to continue to ask of God,
“Make us your servants. May we be your compassion, your expression of unity. Thank you for
the opportunity, and the joy, to serve.”
Jeannie Masterson, CSJ