Jesus alone is Lord, the Most High, for there is no better and more lowly servant of all than he. Hence, to mistake his greatness with that of the world is to be foolish before him.
As it turns out, Jesus is right to ask his disciples to tell no one that he is the Christ. Though Peter’s confession is on the mark, he does not know what to be the Christ means. For after all, it shocks him to hear Jesus speak for the first time of his death and resurrection. He and the other disciples show they are foolish and slow to understand.
And it is for naught, it seems, that Jesus has seen to it that no one knows about their journey. For the tempo forte he gives the foolish seems to be of little use. For those who walk with him to Jerusalem do not listen. They do not catch up as they argue about who is the greatest; what we today call clericalism or careerism slows them down.
Hence, it is no surprise that they do not understand what he teaches them for the second time. Namely, that “the Son of Man is to be handed over to men and they will kill him. And three days after his death, he will rise.” Yet they are afraid to ask. Maybe it shames them to admit that they are foolish, not smart.
If this is what goes on with them, then, they need even more the teaching about being great and little. The Twelve need it most. But they should seat down, in a house, that is to say, in a setting where they can stay calm and close to one another. They will thus be indeed Jesus’.
To be foolish and afraid is to have no share with Jesus, not to let him wash our feet.
For us to be among his true disciples means to let him show us that he is the last of all. The servant of all, the Just one who is condemned to death for our sake. He welcomes children. He may well like them for their lack of guile and guilt. But he places a child in our midst, most of all, since it is poor, weak and helpless. Besides, to it belongs the last place.
Till we learn to welcome Jesus as the servant of all, we will not know mercy and forgiveness. He will not be our all (SV.EN V:537). We will not hand over ourselves to him. And we will fall, —worse for us—, into the hands of men (2 Sam 24, 14; Sir 2, 18). In place of clinging to him, we will flee as if from a fire that devours (Is 33, 14). In shame and despair for our awful sins, before the awesome holy One.
We must feel that we are at the same time the poorest and the most showered with his mercy (SV.EN XI:130). He will thus be our reason to be and act for the poor (see also H. O’Donnell whom T.F. McKenna cites).
No, we will not let our passions, greed and cravings for greatness ruin us. Rather than think we are wise, we will be among the foolish and little ones (Rom 12, 5-17; SV.EN XII:222). For we do not want to spoil the Good News.
Lord Jesus, make us foolish to the end like you. That is to say, to give up our bodies and shed our blood on the cross for the poor. Not like the foolish who hoard wealth unjustly (Jer 17, 11).
19 September 2021
25th Sunday in O.T. (B)
Wis 2, 12. 17-20; Jas 3, 16 – 4, 3; Mk 9, 30-37