This week’s scripture commentary


. by Fr. Antton

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Sunday September 23, 2018
Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

Gospel Mark 9: 30-37

Jesus and his disciples left from there and began a journey through Galilee, but he did not wish anyone to know about it. He was teaching his disciples and telling them, “The Son of Man is to be handed over to men and they will kill him, and three days after his death the Son of Man will rise.” But they did not understand the saying, and they were afraid to question him. They came to Capernaum and, once inside the house, he began to ask them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” But they remained silent. They had been discussing among themselves on the way who was the greatest. Then he sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.” Taking a child, he placed it in the their midst, and putting his arms around it, he said to them, “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me.”

Ebanjelioa Markos 9:30-37

30 Handik atera eta Galilean zehar zebiltzan. Jesusek ez zuen inork jakiterik nahi, 31 bere ikasleei irakastera emana baitzegoen. Honela ari zitzaien: «Gizonaren Semea gizakien eskuetara emango dute; hil egingo dute, baina hil eta hiru egunera piztu egingo da». 32 Haiek, ordea, ez zuten ulertzen zer ari zitzaien; galdetzera, berriz, ez ziren ausartzen. 33 Kafarnaumera iritsi ziren. Eta, etxean, Jesusek galdera hau egin zien: –Zer eztabaida izan duzue bidean? 34 Baina haiek hitzik ez; beren artean handiena nor ote zen eztabaidatu baitzuten bidean. 35 Eseri zen Jesus eta, Hamabiei dei eginik, esan zien: –Lehena izan nahi duena izan bedi denetan azkena eta denen zerbitzaria. 36 Eta gero, haur bat hartu, haien aurrera ekarri eta, magalean zuela, esan zien: 37 –Honelako haurra nire izenean onartzen duenak neu onartzen nau; eta ni onartzen nauenak, ez nau ni onartzen, bidali nauen hura baizik.

To be the Last and Servant

Jesus, together with his followers, is walking through the dusty road from Galilee to Jerusalem. They wished to do it in a quiet manner, without drawing anyone’s attention. Jesus wants to devote himself entirely to instruct his disciples. It is very important that which He wishes to carve in their hearts, namely, that His way is not a path toward acquiring glory, success and power. It is rather the opposite: a path that leads to the crucifixion, after having been rejected by all, but that death will end in resurrection.

The disciples did not get what Jesus is telling them on the way. They are even afraid to ask Him about it. They do not want to think about crucifixion. Crucifixion did not fit into their plans or expectations about their future. Because while Jesus speaks to them about the cross and a life of self-denial and in total commitment to the others, they were speaking about their ambitions: Who will be the greatest in the group? Who will get the highest place? Who will receive more honors?

Jesus “sits down.” Maybe He is disheartened that after all this time with them, they have understood nothing about the kernel of His message. Now He wants to teach them something they must never forget. He calls the twelve, those most closely associated with his mission, and invites them to come closer, because he sees them very far from HIM.

If they wish to follow His example and be like Him, they must learn and practice two fundamental attitudes.

First attitude: “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.” The disciple of Jesus must renounce ambitions of possessing a rank with the plethora of its honors and vanities. In the community of Jesus no one must pretend to be over others. Rather, one must be the last, place at the same level as of those who have no power and hold no rank at all. Moreover, to grow to be like Jesus: a “servant of all.”

The second attitude is so important that Jesus illustrates it with a very tender symbolic gesture. He places a child in the middle of the Twelve, in the center of the group, so that those megalomaniac ambitious men forget about honors, titles, and greatness, and put their eyes on the small, the weak, the needy and those most needing care and protection. Then He hugs the child and says: “Whoever receives a child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me.” The one who welcomes on of these “little” ones welcomes the “greatest” of all, Jesus. And those who accept Jesus are welcoming the Father who sent him.

Any follower of Jesus, the church for that matter, who looks at and associates with the powerful of the earth is perverting the Good News and has already betrayed Jesus.