Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Reading 1 WIS 2:12, 17-20
Responsorial Psalm PS 54:3-4, 5, 6 AND 8
- (6b) The Lord upholds my life.
Reading 2 JAS 3:16—4:3
Alleluia CF. 2 THES 2:14
- Alleluia, alleluia.
God has called us through the Gospel
to possess the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel MK 9:30-37
22/23 September 2018 take off the blinders
Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
I recently saw “Beauty and the Beast” on TV. It was the 2017 movie version with Kevin Klein and Emma Watson. If you have seen the movie or the Disney animation, you know the Beast wasn’t always a beast. He was born a wealthy prince and lived in a castle. As a child, the prince was pampered by a life of luxury but took his many possessions for granted. Unfortunately he grew up to be a self-centered man who had no sympathy for the suffering of others.
One night, while hosting a ball, an old beggar woman knocked on the castle door and offered the prince a rose in return for shelter from the storm. The selfish prince refused to help the poor woman so she revealed her true identity as a beautiful enchantress. She punished the prince by transforming him into an ugly beast and cast a spell on the castle and all his servants.
It’s a long story but as you may know the selfish prince learns a valuable lesson and they lived happily ever after.
Today’s Gospel has a different cast of characters but reminded me of this fairytale. There is no enchanted castle but like the selfish prince, the Apostles took their unique situation for granted. The Apostles were not living in luxury but they were on a faith journey that we could only dream about:
· They witnessed first-hand, several miracles that took place all across the Holy Land.
· They were given power to heal the sick and drive out demons and
· for several months now they were personally instructed in the faith by Jesus Himself.
It’s easy for us to speculate 2000 years later but it seems their pride and ambition to become the greatest Apostle had blinded them. In the Gospel of Mark Jesus told the Apostles 3 separate times of His impending fate. He couldn’t seem to convince them that the real mission of the Messiah included betrayal, torture and death by the Gentiles and rising from the dead. This prediction of their Messiah’s fall from grace didn’t seem to fit the future the Apostles were imaging for themselves. Instead of providing support for Jesus during this difficult time, they were more concerned about their own status.
Jesus knew what the Apostles were thinking and His response was much different than the enchantress in our fairy tale. Jesus did not turn them into a beast to teach them a lesson. Jesus knew the cure for the Apostle’s pride and selfishness was to force them to look outside themselves…to look beyond their preoccupation with rank and prestige. Jesus repeated His central themes of servant leadership: “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.”…and then Jesus gave them a visible connection to drive the point home: Taking a child, he placed it in 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.”
In the time of Jesus, a child had no rights or value in society. Jesus was giving the Apostles a clue about their future ministry of serving the hungry and thirsty, welcoming the stranger, clothing the naked, caring for the sick and visiting those in prison.Jesus was giving the Apostles a path to follow that would lead them out of the dark world of pride and selfishness and into the light of Christian ministry.
Jesus has given us this same path follow so we must ask ourselves:
· Do we have distractions in our own lives that preoccupy our thoughts and make us blind to the people in need around us?
· If we are distracted, what people or important events are we missing?
· Have we been given any redirection in our life or opportunities to follow a different path…a path that focuses more on serving the “least among us”?
These are ongoing questions we need to consider every day. As it turns out, it takes quiet time and reflection to do that. The noisy world we live in will try to convince us that we deserve more than we already have, not lead us down the path of those who need our help.
We can’t escape the world we live in but we can make it a priority every day to turn down the volume and make sure we are present to those around us. Consider finding a time each day when we can spend a few minutes doing a self-assessment. You may already be doing this as part of your prayer life but consider mixing it up. Go for a quiet walk or spend a peaceful moment appreciating nature.
In these quiet moments we can thank God for the many blessings and people in our lives. We can reflect on the distractions in our lives that may be blinding us to the needs around us and the opportunities God may be giving us to help others. Like a horse wearing blinders, we can’t see the world around us unless we take them off.
As we come together to share the Eucharist, let us reflect on this Divine Gift and how we are called to respond.
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