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Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time

Mk. 9:30-37

Our Gospel reading today illustrates just how human the 12 Apostles were! Jesus wanted to spend precious time with them to teach them about His future. But telling them that the Son of Man would be handed over to men who would kill Him, and that in three days He would rise again, seemed to be beyond their comprehension.

Were they really listening to Him? They would not have given up their work to live with Him had they not loved Him - so when He said He was to be killed they chose not to listen!

Could it be that they did not want to understand this terrible thing He was saying. Their idea of the Messiah was one of glory, not suffering and failure. But when they shut their ears they failed to hear the stupendous news - that on the third day He would rise and be glorious. This is why when eventually He did suffer, and was crucified, they did not expect His resurrection to follow. It took them by complete surprise!

Then at the end of their journey through Galilee Jesus asked them what they were talking about among themselves. They were arguing about who among them was the greatest. And Jesus knew it! So He sat down to show that He had something very important to teach them. He began, “If you want to be first, make yourself last.” How typical this was of Jesus! He went to the heart of the matter, demanding His listeners’ attention, for He was simply telling the truth.

They happened to be in a house where there was a child and children were close to the heart of Jesus because they were innocent and uncontaminated by the selfish ways of the world. Jesus said “Welcome this child and you will welcome Me; and if you welcome Me you will
welcome God who is My Father.” He chose a child as an icon of God, to show that God does not think in the competitive way the disciples were tempted to think - the way Christ's disciples in our own day are tempted to think. The child was loved by God, precious to God.

Christ’s teaching is so different from that of the world: it tells us that if we want to be successful we have to centre on ‘self’ and ignore our fellow men, but Jesus tells us that if we want to reach the top it will mean having to be the servant of all and being ready to serve.

This was the pattern Jesus set for us when He washed the feet of His Apostles at the Last Supper. We are called to follow His example and serve others. Mothers who diligently, lovingly and tirelessly devote themselves to their children follow Jesus’ example of service. So, too, do carers who put their heart and soul into caring for the elderly.

Lord Jesus, our Christian vocation is all about allowing You to call us into Your seemingly ‘crazy’ world where death means glory, weak means strong, leader means servant and first means last. Following You sets us free and brings real satisfaction to all that we do - and makes our lives rich and fully human.

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