Jesus saves and shelters those who are helpless as are children. He puts his arms around them, heals them and feeds them with his body and blood.
For the second time, Jesus announces to his disciples his passion, death and resurrection. And no one among them dares rebuke him this time. But they do not understand just the same. It is just that now they are afraid to ask him; they would rather keep their mouths shut. This means they really do not want to understand. Surely, they cannot imagine their Teacher turning into one of the hapless and helpless victims of the Romans.
But there is much that is at stake here, too, for those who have left everything to follow Jesus. If he fails, it will dash their hope in him as the one to redeem Israel. It will also mean the end of all talk about who will be the greatest among them. The greatest, that is, among his ministers or counselors in the coming kingdom. They will, then, have to return to their former way of life, feeling helpless once again.
But to their embarrassment, such that they have to shut up again, Jesus tells the Twelve what to discuss and learn. His future ministers are to be the last and the servants of all. That is, no to selfish ambition. Very specifically, they should be like children.
Children are helpless and depend trustingly on adults that, sadly, sometimes hurt and abuse them. They are lacking in knowledge, and so do not make important decisions. By and large, they, along with the women, do not count as much as men. Children are often the last to be served, and it is not uncommon that they find themselves at the beck and call of adults.
Indeed, those who follow Jesus up close become as helpless as children, as Jesus himself.
Jesus does say, moreover, he is one with the children. Just as he is one with the least of his brothers and sisters. Those who put their arms around them, then, put their arms around him and the One who sent him. To put it in another way, one cannot be a follower of Jesus without receiving those who are helpless. The true disciple strives to heal their wounds. The true follower of the Firstborn of the woman cannot but let the wicked serpent beset and wound him to crush its head. That is the only way one can be a source of healing for those in need of it. True disciple gives up his body and sheds his blood for the helpless.
Lord Jesus, make us put our arms around helpless children and poor people. Count us among those who choose to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom. May we practice the true religion that St. Vincent de Paul experienced as he personally welcomed the children and the poor (SV.EN XI:190).
23 September 2018
25th Sunday in O.T. (B)
Wis 2, 12. 17-20; Jas 3, 16 – 4, 3; Mk 9, 30-37
Tags: A Vincentian reading of the Sunday readings, Ross Dizon