25th Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)



September 23, 2018

“If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all”.

Parents usually say that their children are so tender and lovable up to certain age, before they go to school. But when they get registered and join school, they get registered and join also in the world of competition; they lose simplicity because parents at home and teachers at school teach them, you have to be number one in your class, and in case they fail, we tell them, you have to be like your big brother or big sister. We compare them and we push them to be competitive. Our youngsters end up thinking that their value depends on success. No wonder, the apostles in today Gospel argue among themselves “Who was the greatest;” no wonder when we grow up, we are the same. So many times we strive neither just for doing things our best nor for service.

When someone is sharing with us a big pain or trouble, the least thing we can do is listening carefully, and offering support to that person. On the contrary, we hear in today´s Gospel that Jesus tells his disciples that he must suffer and die, "But they did not understand what he said." I do not know if a psychotherapist would tell us the apostles were “blocking out understanding.” It was not a matter of lacking rational understanding, but unwillingness to hear unpleasant news. However, we should not put the blame on the twelve apostles; we should also take the blame for, since we do not accept the fact of suffering either.

In the reading from Wisdom today, we find cruel, wicked people against the just man. They plot against him and get rid of him because his justice and goodness are a reproach to them; they are jealous, as the apostle James says in the second reading, “Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist there is disorder and every foul practice.” Then he adds, “The fruit of righteousness is sown in peace for those who cultivate peace.”

Mark shows us today how Jesus´ ministry in Galilee draws to its close as he journeys toward Jerusalem. As Jesus arrives with his group in Capernaum on his way to Jerusalem, he again asks his disciples a question. This time the question and the answer are crucial for another teaching, the meaning of service to others. When Jesus asks, what they were arguing about on the way, they remain silent, because they are afraid and ashamed. “They had been discussing among themselves on the way who was the greatest.”

The concern here of the position among the disciples is in connection with their lack of understanding. As it is his teaching way, the Master uses a practical parable: a child. A child at that time had no legal rights or privileges as our culture today gives to it. When you helped a child, you expected nothing in return.

After Jesus teaches about leadership and authority in the Church, he warns us on worldly authority. “The rulers of this world lord it over them. Do not do like them.” There is a striking difference between authority in a Christian community and authority in a secular society. Worldly power, money, and selfish ambition frequently motivate people in leadership, and this type of leadership usually tends to corrupt. In the Church, authority is totally identified with humble service.

Jesus knew his disciples´ shortcomings, as he knows ours today. He knew, we, his disciples would be more concerned about serving ourselves instead of serving our brothers and sisters. While Jesus is telling the disciples about his coming passion, they do not grasp the lesson, or in any case they do not want to hear it. Instead they are discussing about privileges and positions in the Kingdom of God. This teaching of Jesus on service has frequently been neglected. Let´s keep in mind, that as disciples we are called not seek to be served as to serve.

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