In God’s eyes

jesus-and-disciplesWe conclude our look into Sunday’s Gospel with some final thoughts about Jesus’ lesson to the disciples. If the first teaching was troublesome, the next would have been downright shocking. In our time we have a different view of children. We hold children to be innocent and precious. This does not seem to have been the view of 1st century. In ancient culture, children had no status. They were subject to the authority of their fathers, viewed as little more than property. In Roman culture adults were adopted, not children. Consider St. Paul’s statement: “I mean that as long as the heir is not of age, he is no different from a slave, although he is the owner of everything, but he is under the supervision of guardians and administrators until the date set by his father.” (Gal 4:1-2) If this is said of the heir, can you imagine the attitude for children in general?

Perkins [p. 637] writes: “… the child in antiquity was a non-person…Children should have been with the women, not hanging around the teacher and his students (cf. 10:13-16). To say that those who receive Jesus receive God does not constitute a problem. A person’s emissary was commonly understood to be like the one who sent him. But to insist that receiving a child might have some value for male disciples is almost inconceivable.”

Perkins echos the text in Matthew 10, “Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me….” but is pointing out that Jesus is telling the disciples that while there are times you will indeed be my emissary, this is not the problem at hand. The problem is that the Twelve cannot conceive of welcoming the least important people in society, those ranked lowest in human convention. Yet Jesus is saying, “you’ll need to work your way down to the most marginal and lowest (by human convention) in order to find me. I am last of all.”

Remember the recent episode when the disciples were unable to cast out the demon from the child in 9:14-29? The disciples ask Jesus “…in private, “Why could we not drive it out?” He said to them, “This kind can only come out through prayer.” One wonders if the disciples did not think the child was worthy of their time, effort, or prayer? They were willing to command the demon to come one, but not to pray for the child.

The Kingdom of God involves giving status to those who have none. The disciples are not to be like children, but to be like Jesus who embraces the child, the one held to be least of all in human convention.

A young rabbinical student asked the rabbi, “Rabbi, why don’t people see God today as they did in the olden days?” The wise old man put his hands on the student’s shoulders and said, “The answer, my son, is because no one is willing to stoop so low.”


Source

  • Pheme Perkins, The Gospel of Mark, vol. 8 of The New Interpreter’s Bible (Nashville, TN: Abington Press, 1994) 635-38

Greatest in the Kingdom

jesus-and-disciplesIn next Sunday’s Gospel, we will encounter the disciples wondering about who among them will be the greatest in the Kingdom – and Jesus’ response to their chatter: 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 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.”  (Mark 9:35-37)

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Getting Organized?

jesus-and-disciplesWe continue with look into the Gospel reading for the 25th Sunday in Year B of our lectionary cycle. But following the second prediction of the passion there seems to be a non-sequiter in process: 33 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. (Mark 9:33-34). Again the disciples remain silent. Before they were afraid to ask Jesus about the meaning of his teaching. Here they think they are trying to avoid embarrassment. If before they worried that Jesus would condemn them for not understanding his teaching, now, are they worried that he will condemn them for desiring and talking about greatness? They do not yet fathom Jesus as a gracious savior.

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Understanding

jesus-and-disciplesThis coming Sunday is the 2th Sunday of Ordinary Time with the Gospel taken from Mark 9:30-37. In the account, Jesus tells the disciples, again, of his impending passion, death and rising from the tomb. Our text for this morning: “They 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 he will rise.” But they did not understand the saying, and they were afraid to question him. (Mark 9:30-32) Continue reading

Preparing the Disciples

jesus-and-disciplesThis coming Sunday is the 2th Sunday of Ordinary Time with the Gospel taken from Mark 9:30-37. In the account, Jesus tells the disciples, again, of his impending passion, death and rising from the tomb. And as we move further into the liturgical year, it should become evident that there are fewer demonstrations of power and teaching authority, although they will continue to occur, e.g., the healing of the boy with demon (Mark 9:19-29). The emphasis is ever on preparing his disciples for the time when Jesus will not be among them in an earthly form. The text for this Sunday is commonly referred to as Christ’s second passion/resurrection prediction. Between the first set of prediction/instructions and our Sunday gospel we have following gospel stories from St. Mark: Continue reading