SEPTEMBER 19. Ord Time B. Wk 25 Sun. Mk 9. 30-37
Updated: Sep 19
Jesus and his disciples made their way through Galilee; and he did not want anyone to know, because he was instructing his disciples; he was telling them, ‘The Son of Man will be delivered into the hands of men; they will put him to death; and three days after he has been put to death he will rise again.’ But they did not understand what he said and were afraid to ask him.
They came to Capernaum, and when he was in the house he asked them, ‘What were you arguing about on the road?’ They said nothing because they had been arguing which of them was the greatest. 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.’ He then took a little child, set him in front of them, put his arms round him, and said to them, ‘Anyone who welcomes one of these little children in my name, welcomes me; and anyone who welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.’
When Jesus teaches his disciples, he was very clear in the way he gave his message, so it is hard to understand why the disciples did not appreciate the seriousness of the message he had just given them; - “The Son of Man will be delivered into the hands of men; they will put him to death; and three days after he has been put to death he will rise again.”
We are told “They did not understand what he said, and they were afraid to ask him!” There were many other parables that Christ taught and the disciples questioned him about their meanings; - but not his one; - and it was probably one of the most important of his teachings?
Given they were alone it is very difficult to understand why, but maybe “suffering and being put to death, and rising to life again’, was a teaching they did not wish to have explained. It would have stretched their faith to its limits so perhaps it was better to remain silent?
When he endured the Cross, and death, on Calvary most of his followers did leave him!
In these early days of the Church’s formation there were many lessons which were not understood and we should not be surprised at this. Christian’s today have thousands of years of history; - not the least being the Resurrection, the Ascension and the Sacraments; - which provide a solid foundation for our faith today; - but there was none of this in Jesus’ time.
In the second part of today’s gospel, we find Jesus teaching his followers about humility and simplicity. The question “who was the greatest among them” was probable not unreasonable at the time; - but Jesus took the opportunity to stress the importance of not seeking “greatness” in the world; - and he used the children who were around him to counsel against desiring it.
Greatness, in the eyes of Christ, was very different to the greatness valued by the world. The greatness Christ was preaching involved putting the Will of God before our own will; - while the greatness the disciples were seeking involved being recognised by the community!
This gospel gives us an indication of how difficult it must have been for the early Christians to grasp Christ’s message. The need for suffering; - the need for service to others; - the need for humility; - and there were many other demands such as showing mercy, being kind and generous; etc and then we have issues like the real presence in the Eucharist; - which really challenged his followers; - and many did walk away; - and they continue to walk away today!
Gospel Acclamation cf 2 Thessalonians 2:14
God has called us with the gospel
to share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
First reading Wisdom 2:12,17-20 ·
The wicked prepare to ambush the just man
The godless say to themselves:
‘Let us lie in wait for the virtuous man, since he annoys us
and opposes our way of life,
reproaches us for our breaches of the law
and accuses us of playing false to our upbringing.
‘Let us see if what he says is true,
let us observe what kind of end he himself will have.
If the virtuous man is God’s son, God will take his part
and rescue him from the clutches of his enemies.
Let us test him with cruelty and with torture,
and thus explore this gentleness of his
and put his endurance to the proof.
Let us condemn him to a shameful death
since he will be looked after – we have his word for it.’
This first reading today is based entirely on the view suffering is something to be avoided at all costs, a view that continues to prevail in today's world. The presumption by the godless being God will rescue the virtuous man from his trials and difficulties.
How different were the teachings of Christ. "If any man wants to come my way, let him deny himself, take up his Cross, and follow me!" - "Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from me; - but not as I want it; - only as you want it!"
During the period of the Old Testament God's people did not understand the need for Reparation for Sin; - which is what Christ came to teach; - and not only teach; - but to atone for the sins of mankind; - by sacrificing his life on a Cross.
Despite this, there are still many Christian souls today who continue to not understand this need for reparation for sin, via suffering and sacrifice; - something which should be obvious due to the requirements of justice.
This view is hard to understand due to the fact God required his own son to sacrifice his life; - something reflecting the importance of atonement for sin in the eyes of God! The reason we object to making atonement of course is it requires we put the will of God before our own will; - something that interferes with our lives.
It may be "right" and God's Will; - but sadly we continue to put our own personal desires before the Will of our Creator; - rather than listen to the Wisdom of the Gospels; - where we are called to "share in the Glory of Christ" as we are told in today's Gospel Acclamation
It may be unconscious, but I think many of us continue to have the view outlined in this first reading; - thinking and praying God will protect us from having to endure any trials or sufferings; - a serious misunderstanding of what the Gospel invites Christians to do!
Something we see illustrated in today's gospel when Christ told his followers; - "The Son of Man will be delivered into the hands of men; they will put him to death; and three days after he has been put to death he will rise again.’ But they did not understand what he said and were afraid to ask him!"
They did not understand; - and they did not ask; - due to what it might mean for them!