Reflection: 23rd September 2018

A Reflection for the Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

MK 9: 30-37 ( )

Many of the most significant teachings of Jesus occurred on journeys.  Today’s gospel is a case in point.  

There’s something about sharing the joys and tribulations of journeying together that promotes intimacy and self-disclosure.  Journeys imply physically, and sometimes emotionally, leaving behind our plans and perceptions, and moving towards change, the future, the new and the unknown - all with the potential to disturb our comfort zone and to generate an element of fear and anxiety.  

We are not comfortable with change, especially if there are hints of things that we do not want to hear or experience.  As they journeyed on, Jesus’ disciples were not comfortable with what they were hearing.  They did not want to hear.  They did not want to know.  They were in denial and not receptive to this talk about being “betrayed into human hands” and ‘’being killed.”

This was not part of their triumphant master plan which was both flawed and incomplete.  The trauma of Good Friday was folly in the absence of rising from the dead on Easter Sunday. “But they did not understand”. They just “did not get it.”  They did not understand what Jesus was saying, and, worse still, they “were too afraid to ask him.”

Jesus and his disciples journeyed on and arrived “in the house”, and from that secure base continued another significant teaching: Who was the greatest?  This was the focus of the disciples’ heated arguing as they journeyed “on the way.”  Yet they were ashamed to acknowledge and identify with it and were reduced to an embarrassed silence by Jesus’ question.  In a gesture of authority and to emphasise the significance of the occasion, Jesus “sat down, called the twelve, and said to them: Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.”  

These were the conditions laid down by Jesus to all who would make themselves available to serve in an authority role. Such brave volunteers merit the support of all. To relieve the disciples’ embarrassment, Jesus called on the assistance of a little child to emphasise his teaching.  In a gesture of protection, he said to all: “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”  An admonition relevant and appropriate for every age.

Liam Sheridan C.S.Sp.- After formation in Bolton St. College and Ardbraccan, Brother Liam ministered in Nigeria and The Gambia for 12 years. Attached to The Blessed Sacrament Chapel (Bachelor's Walk) currently, he has also ministered in Dublin’s Seán McDermott St. and Rialto.