25th SUNDAY OF THE YEAR
In the first reading from the Book of Wisdom, we see that the godless plot to do away with the just person, because their blameless life is a reproach to them. St James reminds us that jealousy and ambition and self-seeking lead to disharmony and wicked things, whereas, gentleness and compassion lead to peace.
In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus tells us that he will suffer betrayal, humiliation, and death … “But they did not understand what he said and were afraid to ask!” We saw in the Gospel last Sunday and today, that Jesus was preparing his disciples for his forthcoming death in Jerusalem. As they are walking the roads of Galilee, Jesus is speaking to them in private and is hoping they will understand the meaning of what lies ahead. The disciples cannot comprehend what Jesus is telling them and maybe they didn’t want to ask any questions in case their greatest suspicions were confirmed.
The disciples cannot face this reality of what Jesus is saying, so they start their own discussion about power and prestige – who is the greatest among them? Were they trying to figure out who would be leader when Jesus was gone? We will give them the benefit of the doubt. But whatever way we look at it, the disciples were so insensitive – here is Jesus talking about his imminent death, and all they can think about is, “who is the greatest among them?” When Jesus asks them what they were discussing – the response was a silence of shame. It is in this silence that Jesus takes a little child, sets him in front of them, puts his arms round the child and challenges them to accept this little child and welcome him as they should welcome Jesus himself. The child, who is powerless, is a symbol of “all the little people” whom God loves. It is not a question of power and might over people, but a matter of service to others without seeking any reward. Special hospitality should be offered to those from whom we can benefit the least.
This is what Jesus did. This is what he asks of us today … welcoming the stranger, those in most need is a challenge in our time. It’s not easy, and we could put forward a hundred and one reasons for not getting involved. Yet, this is at the very centre of Jesus’s message today. That is all for this week, God bless. Fr Joe