The Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
In the hope that you will enter more fully into the Mass
WHOEVER RECEIVES ONE CHILD SUCH AS THIS IN MY NAME, RECEIVES ME..
In our readings this Sunday, we hear of the sinful, jealous, prideful nature of man contrasted with the wisdom and gentle love of God in caring for his chosen ones.
In our first reading from the Book of Wisdom (2:12,17-20), we hear of the wicked who put the "just one" to the test, eerily prophetic of the disdain the Jewish leaders had for Jesus. The evil designs of wicked people have always been with us.
The wicked say: Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us; he sets himself against our doings, reproaches us for transgressions of the law and charges us with violations of our training. Let us see whether his words be true; let us find out what will happen to him. For if the just one be the son of God, God will defend him and deliver him from the hand of his foes. With revilement and torture let us put the just one to the test that we may have proof of his gentleness and try his patience. Let us condemn him to a shameful death; for according to his own words, God will take care of him.
In our Gospel reading (Mark 9:30-37), Jesus, for the second time, predicts his passion and death. His disciples just don't understand. They argue instead about who among them will be the greatest. Jesus responds with further teaching about the nature of discipleship. He uses a lowly child as an example of servant leadership.
Jesus and his disciples left from there and began a journey through Galilee, but he did not wish anyone to know about it. He was teaching his disciples and telling them, “The Son of Man is to be handed over to men and they will kill him, and three days after his death the Son of Man will rise.” But they did not understand the saying, and they were afraid to question him.
They came to Capernaum and, once inside the house, he began to ask them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” But they remained silent. They had been discussing among themselves on the way who was the greatest. Then he sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.” Taking a child, he placed it in their midst, and putting his arms around it, he said to them, “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me.”
Our Epistle reading (James 3:16 - 4:3), St. James calls out the wickedness and disorder that seeks to destroy us and offers the antidote - peace, gentleness and mercy. The futility of worldly wisdom vs. the "wisdom from above.".
Beloved: Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every foul practice. But the wisdom from above is first of all pure, then peaceable, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without inconstancy or insincerity. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace for those who cultivate peace.
Where do the wars and where do the conflicts among you come from? Is it not from your passions that make war within your members? You covet but do not possess. You kill and envy but you cannot obtain; you fight and wage war. You do not possess because you do not ask. You ask but do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.
Over the next several weeks, we will hear Jesus' teaching on the nature of true discipleship. It began last week with "deny yourself and take up your cross and follow me". It continues this week with "If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all." This was, and is so contrary to the wisdom of this world. Here is an anonymous quote that puts it into perspective, "If you seek greatness, you will be disappointed. Rather, seek to serve others and greatness will find you." May we lose ourselves in the service of others.