Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Two attitudes very much of Jesus

by José Antonio Pagola (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Buenas Noticias: Blog de Jose Antonio Pagola
September 20, 2015

Mark 9:30-37

Jesus' group is crossing through Galilee, on the road to Jerusalem. They do it quietly, without anyone knowing. Jesus wants to devote himself entirely to instructing his disciples. What he wants to burn into their hearts is very important -- his way isn't a path of glory, success and power. It's the opposite -- it leads to crucifixion and rejection, but will end in resurrection.

The disciples can't wrap their minds around what Jesus is saying. They're even afraid to ask him. They don't want to think about crucifixion. It doesn't fit into their plans or expectations. While Jesus is talking about surrender and the cross, they're talking about their ambitions -- Who will be the greatest in the group? Who will occupy the highest place? Who will get more honors?

Jesus "sits down." He wants to teach them something they are never to forget. He calls the Twelve, those who are most closely associated with his mission,and invites them to approach since he sees them very far from him. To follow in his footsteps and become like him, they have to learn two basic attitudes.

First attitude: "Anyone who wishes to be first, shall be the last of all and the servant of all." Jesus' disciples must renounce ambition, rank, honors, and vanity. In his group no one must claim to be above the others. On the contrary, he or she must occupy the last place, put themselves on the level of those who don't have power or boast of any rank. And, from there, be like Jesus -- "a servant of all."

The second attitude is so important that Jesus illustrates it with an endearing symbolic gesture. He places a child in the midst of the Twelve, in the center of the group, so that those ambitious men will forget honors and grandeur, and set their sights on the little ones, the weak, those most in need of advocacy and care. Then, he embraces him and tells them, "Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me." Whoever receives a "little one" is receiving the "greatest one," Jesus. And whoever receives Jesus is receiving the Father who sent him.

A Church that welcomes the little and defenseless ones is teaching people to welcome God. A church that looks towards the big ones and is associated with the powerful of the earth is perverting the Good News of God announced by Jesus.

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