Chasing the Pot of Gold

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, October 21, 2018

An old Irish man was reminiscing about the good old days. One of his friends remarked, “I always used to believe that there was a pot of gold at the end of every rainbow. I would run to find it, but I never did.” Then he asked, “Did you ever find a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?” The old Irish man replied, “No, but I sure did enjoy the hunt.”

 

All of us have goals and hopes that we try to reach or fulfill. You may recall some of your goals – passing a test, getting married, having a family, getting through college, buying a car.

 

So often the very effort becomes the source of self-satisfaction and enjoyment. Much knowledge has been attained studying for tests that have never been passed.

Goals seem to be better if they are higher. Arrows that are aimed higher go higher and further even if they don’t hit the mark. But the higher the goal, more work is needed to attain it. In general, the Gospel sets very high goals for us: “You are the light of the world. You are the salt of the earth. Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect. You will do even greater works than I.”

 

Is it any wonder then, that James and John in today’s gospel set very high goals for themselves, wanting to sit at Jesus’ right and left in the Kingdom? Notice that after the request Jesus did not reprimand them. Instead he simply asks them: “Are you willing to pay the price? Are you willing to drink of the cup that I must drink and be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” Then James and John, having no idea what they were getting into, said: “O sure, we’ll do that.” Almost like little children, not having a clue what they were asking for.

 

Whatever our goals in life may be, we must be willing to pay the price. Athletes must exercise, students must study, and salespeople must make calls. Abraham Lincoln lost election after election before becoming president. But in the Gospel Jesus is not yet finished, and he gives the disciples puzzling advice, he asks them: “Are you willing to pay the price, and perhaps not get to where you want to go? Jesus tells them that what they ask is not his to give.

How can we make sense of what Jesus is saying? First we must notice that Jesus did not get upset with James and John. So therefore it must be OK to want to rank first, to strive for high goals. But at the same time, Jesus is insisting that the price must be paid. “Whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be the first among you will be the slave of all.” And the cost is something so high that you may never see the results, at least not in this life.

 

The message for all of us this day is this: Aim high, but be willing to pay the price, even if it does not mean winning the prize. It is like preparing for tryout and hoping we make the team. Sometimes it is not only the goal that is important, but instead the real satisfaction is the process that is used in trying to attain that goal.

 

Human nature is strange: it needs something to hope for, something to work for, and something to live for, a reason to get out of bed in the morning.

 

It is like chasing that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. We may never find it, but the hunt sure is fun. Amen

Fr. Terry Hazel

 

Sunday Readings

Isaiah 53:10–11

The Lord’s will shall be accomplished through him.

 

Hebrews 4:14–16

...Let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy

and to find grace for timely help.

 

Mark 10:35–45 or Mark 10:42–45

[Jesus said,] “For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”