Jesus’ disciples lose the plot

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012, is the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B.

Lectio: Read the Gospel text from Mark 9:30-37.  Read it slowly and reflectively, and maybe a second time. Try to read aloud rather than with the mind. Listen to the text as you read. Stand back from it and ponder.

Meditatio: Some background to help us understand the text and respond to it.

This Gospel can be summed up quickly in contemporary language: the disciples had either lost the plot or they weren’t on the wavelength to begin with. 

How absolutely frustrated Jesus must have been! And yet, the Gospel text addresses ambition: the ambition that is in every human being. They were concerned with promotion and self-esteem. Jesus, the Son of God, was concerned only with humility and simplicity. 

He showed them that the answer to their earthly greed is in the hands of a child. Discipleship is about humility and simplicity, being last rather than first – perhaps never being first. 

The text is taken from the longer unit: 9:30-50. This unit contains the second prediction of the Passion and its consequences for discipleship. And the prediction of the Passion is pitted against the earthly ambitions of the disciples.

Read the Gospel text again slowly with this background…

I share my response in Evangelizatio No. 1.

EVANGELIZATIO: My lived response to the texts with which the Church exhorts me to pray. St. James says “Be doers of the Word.” And the Book of Deuteronomy tells us that the Word of God is in our hands to do it. 

This story from Mark has prompted me to recall a story from world history, where reality versus protocol (ambition, plans for self-promotion etc). When the Russian Revolution of 1917 broke out because the peasants and workers were hungry (reality), certain officials associated with the Royal family were involved in a meeting about protocol – something as important as who should walk first into the Dining Hall. 

This is a lesson for Churches, Nations, Parish communities Religious Communities, families – that when the reality of the Cross is all around us, we are often too busy discussing irrelevant details of protocol, to notice the suffering of God’s people, or those closest to us. 

This is a sad truth. Am I concerned that everyone is sitting in the right place, smiling at the camera for our annual family photograph, when in actual fact, my family is in turmoil. We need to ask some serious questions in the light of this Gospel. Being first or last in the Kingdom of Jesus! Walking first or second into the Dining Hall! Sitting on the top row or the bottom row for the family photograph! Who is most important? Who isn’t? We have probably noticed by now, that in a Church Procession, the important people walk in last, not first. 

LECTIO DIVINA IS ABOUT READING THE SACRED SCRIPTURES, REFLECTING ON THE SACRED SCRIPTURES, FROM AN INFORMED BACKGROUND. IT IS ALLOWING THE HOLY SPIRIT TO PLAY ON THE FIBRES OF MY HEART, LIKE A HARPIST, AND BRING FORTH THE BEAUTY OF MY RESPONSE. IN RESPONDING TO THE TEXT, MY LIFE IS CHANGED MORE AND MORE INTO CHRIST.

– Sr Hildegard Ryan OSB, Jamberoo Abbey 

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