There is a certain sense of urgency about today’s Gospel. Jesus suspects rather strongly that the road that he is on will eventually lead to his death. He therefore uses every opportunity he can get to teach his disciples, and prepare them for what will probably happen to him. In the midst of all this, he is probably disappointed to hear that their main concern was which of them was the greatest? The faces have changed over the centuries but this message remains the same.
I can’t resist in sharing this story with you…. A PARABLE ABOUT PRIDE AND HUMILITY CAUGHT OUT
A newly commissioned colonel had just moved into his office. A private entered with a toolbox. To impress the private, the colonel said, ‘Be with you in a moment, soldier!’ I just got a call as you were knocking.’ Picking up the phone, the Colonel said, “General, it’s you! How can I help you?” A dramatic pause followed. Then the colonel said “No problem. I’ll phone Washington, and speak to the President about it.” Putting down the phone, the colonel said to the private, “Now, what can I do for you?” The private shuffled his feet, and said sheepishly, “Oh, just a little thing sir. They sent me to hook up your phone!” Here is another one on a slightly different angle, but focused on a similar theme.
A very meaningful parable was sent by email to me a couple of weeks ago together with a lot of meaningless rubbish! I would like to share this parable with you, because it has some bearing on today’s Gospel passage. It goes like this: A man, who was full of himself, and loved to show the vastness of his knowledge, asked his wife this question. ‘Do you know how many truly great men there are in the world today?” To which she replied, ‘No, I don’t. But I know there is certainly one less than the number you think there is!’ With that, he cancelled the Dinner for two at The Waldorf Hotel in London! They had Fish n’ Chips wrapped in Newspaper instead, sitting on deck chairs outside Buckingham Palace.
READINGS: Wisdom 2:12, 17-20 Ps 53:3-6 Mark 9:30-37
The Word of God this weekend speaks to us about “true greatness” in the sight of God and humankind. Let’s go back and have a look at the first Reading from the Book of Wisdom………..There is something deep within our DNA as human beings which is twisted! We see it here in the first reading how virtuous people seem to get under the skin of other people, and the inner irritation turns towards cruelty towards the wholesome person. It seems that this inner exasperation evokes creative and nasty ways to trip the wholesome person into experiencing trials and un called for difficulties, or rather as the Scripture says, to see if the good person is for real!
It has always happened, and it continues to happen under various guises within all circles of people, Religious and those who claim no Religious affiliation. It also raises its ugly head within the ranks of the clergy and religious of the Church. When we drill down in search of its direct cause, we often come across jealousy, arrogance, superiority and the abuse of power! The sufferings Servant Songs in the Prophet Isaiah which we hear during Lent and especially on Good Friday speak so eloquently of the one who has no guile! Jesus uses the profound image of a small child, as one who is welcome in God’s household.
It seems that Jesus was not saying that we should stay immature, but just as a child is ‘open’ to life and love without question from loving parents and others, we should always have a similar disposition towards God, and practice it in our daily lives with one another. Ha ha that’s the challenge.
There is a fantastic BBC Series called: Keeping up Appearances…..the great actress Mrs Bucket, always prefers to be called Mrs Bouquet!!!! She spends her time keeping up appearances to the neighbours so that she appears to be from ‘the elite’ and not just an ordinary person from Brixton…… Sometimes we are tempted to Keeping up Appearances of someone that we are not! Boasting of what we have when we don’t have it at all. In other words being a living fraud!
There was a Book in the 1970’s called: Why am I afraid to tell you who I am? By John Powell SJ; the short answer to the question as the title of the Book is……’if I tell you who I am, you might not like what you see!’ I am no Psychologist by a long shot, but let’s look at Jesus………He is not afraid to say who he is……in fact Jesus is so real, that the harsh reality of following him totally is glossed over in today’s Gospel by the Apostles arguing who is going to get the Box Office Seats in the Kingdom? Jesus sits them down and says……being first and having the best places of honour is NOT the Way of Jesus!!!!!
Isn’t it refreshing to meet someone who is ‘for real’, no put on, no show; what you see is what you get! These people appear to be FREE in a very real way. That’s what Jesus wants us to not only be like but ‘be’ all the time.
A child in the society in which Jesus lived had no status; Jesus exalts that status by saying, all are equal in God’s sight, and those who embody that childlike quality, are really welcoming Jesus into their lives as He welcomes them. In the Celebration of the Eucharist, God speaks to us through His Word, always inviting a response from us. In Communion, we are united to Christ and to one another. May we continue to allow ourselves to be strengthened through Word, Sacrament and Community, so that we can truly seek the greatness of Christ-cantered service of each other. Our Liturgical Dismissal at the conclusion to our Eucharistic Celebration…is not just a Liturgical way of saying……Bye, Bye, see ya next week!!! No, it is a commission to go out and BE who we have received, to be SERVANT to each other, and to assist in bringing Heaven to Earth as we so often pray in The Lord’s Prayer.