Dear Followers of Jesus,
Today’s gospel shows us the true meaning of following Jesus. Mark 9:3-37 begins by Jesus telling the story of his future suffering and death. The disciples just do not understand his message. Even further, the disciples really do not comprehend the meaning of his presence among them.
The disciples are arguing over many things. Jesus asks, “What were you arguing about on the way?” The disciples thought for sure that they were going to have new personal identities in the new “age of the messiah.” In other words, they thought they would be the cool kids on the block because they were close to Jesus. We can just see Jesus rolling his eyes. They still did not understand that to follow Jesus means service toward others, living in a profound humility and helping the helpless among them.
So to demonstrate his point, Jesus takes a child and says, “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me…” The child becomes the window in which we see all of what it means to follow Jesus. Let go of self and get a clue in Jesus.
Sadly over the years, not much has changed. We still think just because we follow Jesus that we are better than other people. Just because we have rules to follow and commands of the Church, we think that our identities are about power, separateness and strength. Even the clergy who follow Jesus in the Church rest more on power than humility, more on ego than Divine love, more on strength than on the power of Jesus’ death and resurrection.
When power and greed become the source of our following Jesus, the children suffer. In this day of purification of the Church’s power, authority, and clericalism, humility must be the call of the day. The reason we educate children today is so that they will grow up to find a place where they can rest their pain, their sorrow and their suffering. We do not hoard our power in following Jesus or abuse the innocent. We must not discuss along the way who is the best, the brightest or who is more Catholic by how we rigidly we follow the rules of the Church.
In today’s gospel, the children are an image of liberation for the followers of Jesus, for the children are the reality of humility and honesty. I pray that we all may learn to follow Jesus with such humility. Jesus still asks us the question, “What were you arguing about on the way?” because we are still struggling to get it right.
Blessings along the way,