MARK 9, 30 – 37
27 After leaving that place Jesus and his disciples made their way through Galilee; and he did not want anyone to know,
31 because he was instructing his disciples; he was telling them, ‘The Son of man will be delivered into the power of men; they will put him to death; and three days after he has been put to death he will rise again.’
32 But they did not understand what he said and were afraid to ask him.
33 They came to Capernaum, and when he got into the house he asked them, ‘What were you arguing about on the road?’
34 They said nothing, because on the road they had been arguing which of them was the greatest.
35 So he sat down, called the Twelve to him and said, ‘If anyone wants to be first, he must make himself last of all and servant of all.’
36 He then took a little child whom he set among them and embraced, and he said to them,
37 ‘Anyone who welcomes a little child such as this in my name, welcomes me; and anyone who welcomes me, welcomes not me but the one who sent me.’
New Jerusalem Bible
CONTINUING THE JOURNEY WITH JESUS AND DISCIPLES
Mark’s gospel in the passage leads us to continue the journey with Jesus and his disciples from the villages round Caesarea Philippi and the Transfiguration mountain to Capernaum.
“On the way” the true identity of Jesus remains an enigma. Faced with disciples who could not accept him as the suffering Messiah and the crowd’s erroneous expectations, Jesus announced for the second time his imminent suffering, death, and rising. While suffering and death in the hands of enemies would have been understood, the disciples appeared to have missed the prediction of Jesus being raised again. The author of Wisdom (1) and the psalmist (P) both testified to God vindicating the faithful just person maltreated by the godless.
In a society where honour and shame are crucial concerns, Jesus’ prediction implicated his honour, prompting the disciples to squabble about their own honour in the group in his absence.
LESSON ABOUT GREATNESS ON THE WAY
Jesus’ “instruction” of the disciples is another paradox like that of last Sunday. The greatest among Jesus’ disciples is to be the last, serving all as slaves were wont to do. Serving all happens when even the least in society are included. Concretely Jesus demonstrated the point by his caring gesture on the little child. In Jesus’ time children were loved but considered persons with the least status and honour in society.
Jesus made the further point that when disciples welcomed a child — and thereby others as well — “in his name” they did so through their bond with him and the Father who sent Jesus.
DOING AND DESIRING IN JESUS’ NAME
Christ’s faithful serving and welcoming the least and others in society continue the mission of Jesus on earth and thereby reveal the saving love of God for all. This desire of Christian greatness as service and welcome to the least and all becomes an antidote to our disordered affections and orients our prayer to God in what we desire with respect to others as James implied (2).
Reginald H Fuller and Daniel Westberg, Preaching the Lectionary: The Word of God for the Church Today. Liturgical Press 1984, 2006.
Dennis Hamm, Let the Scriptures Speak. St Louis University Sunday Web Site.
John J Pilch, The Cultural World of Jesus, Sunday by Sunday, Cycle B. The Liturgical Press 1996.
The New Jerusalem Bible. Dalton, Longman & Todd 1985.
How are we to celebrate God’s goodness in vindicating and healing us in our troubled times?
Take Up Your Cross
Charles W Everrest 1833
Tune: O WALY WALY
Presentation of Gifts
If God Is For Us
Now We Remain
1 = 1st reading
P = Responsorial Psalm
2 = 2nd Reading
G = Gospel
Jesus Christ tells us how to be great,
through serving and welcoming
the least and all.
How does this revelation
lead me to change in the way
I see myself,
relate to others, and
pray for what I desire before God?