This coming Sunday, the 26th of Ordinary Time, we hear a passage from the Gospel of Mark which continues our hearing of Jesus’ prediction of his Passion, and a renewed teaching on the quality of life required of the disciple. On the Sunday just gone we were reminded of the disciple’s need to take up his cross. This week we are called to learn to be last and least, if we want to be first and best.
After leaving the mountain 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.’
The disciples do not come out of this passage well. Jesus faces the crisis of his Passion, surely an immensely testing time. And yet he is surrounded by the disciples who do not understand, are afraid to speak to him, and are arguing among themselves. Imagine.
And yet Jesus, in his need, turns to them to help them. The ministry of the Lord to disciples demonstrates the truth and beauty of what he teaches.
- What in particular strikes you about the teaching and example of the Lord?
- How does that relate to your own life and challenges as a disciple?
Nicolaes Maes, Christ blessing the Children, in the collection of the National Gallery, London.