Lectio Divina

Tuesday - Ordinary Time

1) Opening prayer

keep before us the wisdom and love
you have revealed in your Son.
Help us to be like him
in word and deed,
for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

2) Gospel Reading - Mark 9,30-37

After leaving that place Jesus and his disciples made their way through Galilee; and he did not want anyone to know, because he was instructing his disciples; he was telling them, 'The Son of man will be delivered into the power of men; they will put him to death; and three days after he has been put to death he will rise again.' But they did not understand what he said and were afraid to ask him.
They came to Capernaum, and when he got into the house he asked them, 'What were you arguing about on the road?' They said nothing, because on the road they had been arguing which of them was the greatest. So he sat down, called the Twelve to him and said, 'If anyone wants to be first, he must make himself last of all and servant of all.'
He then took a little child whom he set among them and embraced, and he said to them, 'Anyone who welcomes a little child such as this in my name, welcomes me; and anyone who welcomes me, welcomes not me but the one who sent me.'

3) Reflection

• Today’s Gospel narrates the second announcement of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus. Like in the first announcement (Mk 8, 27-38), the disciples were terrified and they are afraid. They do not understand the words about the cross, because they are not capable to understand or to accept a Messiah who becomes the servant of the brothers. They continue to dream in a glorious Messiah and besides that, they show a great incoherence. When Jesus announces his Passion and Death, they discuss who among them will be the greatest. Jesus wants to serve, they only think in commanding! Ambition leads them to promote themselves at the cost of Jesus. Up until the present time, this same desire of self promotion exists in our communities.
• In the time of Jesus as well as in that of Mark, there was the “yeast” of a dominating ideology. Today also, the ideology of the propaganda of business, of consumerism, of the television novels, influence profoundly the way of thinking and of acting of people. At the time of Mark, the communities were not always capable to maintain a critical attitude before the invasion of the ideology of the Roman Empire. And today?
• Mark 9, 30-32: The announcement of the Cross. Jesus goes across Galilee, but he does not want people to know it, because he is busy with the formation of the disciples, and he speaks with them about the Cross. He says that according to the prophecy of Isaiah (Is 53, 1-10), the Son of Man has to be handed over and condemned to death. This indicates the orientation of Jesus toward the Bible, whether in the carrying out of his own mission, as in the formation given to his disciples. He drew his teaching from the prophecies. Like in the first announcement (Mk 8, 32), the disciples listen to him, but they do not understand what he says about the Cross. But they do not ask for any clarification. They are afraid to show their ignorance!
• Mark 9, 33-34: The competitive mentality. When they got home, Jesus asked: “What were you arguing about on the road?” They did not answer. It is the silence of the one who feels guilty, “on the road, in fact, they had been arguing which of them was the greatest”. Jesus is a good pedagogue. He does not intervene immediately. He knows how to wait for the opportune moment to fight against the influence of the ideology in those whom he is forming. The competitive mentality and of prestige, which characterized the society of the Roman Empire, was already penetrating into the small community which was just being formed! Behold the contrast: incoherence: Jesus is concerned with being the Messiah Servant and they think only in who is the greatest. Jesus tries to descend, they think of going up!
• Mark 9, 35-37:. To serve instead of commanding. The response of Jesus is a summary of the witness of life which he himself was giving from the beginning: If anyone wants to be first, he must make himself last of all and servant of all! Because the last one does not win a prize nor obtain a reward. He is a useless servant (cfr. Lk 17, 10). Power must be used not to ascend and dominate, but to descend and serve. This is the point on which Jesus insists the most and of which he gives a greater witness (cf. Mk 10, 45; Mt 20, 28; Jn 13. 1-16). Then Jesus took a little child whom he set among them. A person, who only thinks to go up and to dominate, would not lend much attention to little ones and to children. But Jesus overturns everything! He says: “Anyone who welcomes a little child such as this in my name welcomes me; and anyone who welcomes me, welcomes not me but the one who sent me”. He identifies himself with little ones. Anyone who welcomes the little ones in the name of Jesus welcomes God himself!
• A person is not a saint and is not renewed by the simple fact of “following Jesus”. In the midst of the disciples, and always again, the “yeast of Herod and of the Pharisees” (Mk 8, 15) could be observed. In the episode of today’s Gospel, Jesus appears as a teacher forming his followers. “To follow” was a term that formed part of the educational system of that time. It was used to indicate the relationship between the disciple and the teacher. The relationship teacher-disciple is different from that of professor-pupil. The pupils go to the class of the professor of a determinate subject. The disciples “follow” the teacher and live with him, twenty-four hours a day. In this “living together” with Jesus during three years, the disciples will receive their formation. Tomorrow’s Gospel will give us another quite concrete example of how Jesus formed his disciples.

4) Personal questions

• Jesus wants to lower himself and serve. The disciples want to ascend and to dominate. And I? Which is the most profound motivation of my “unknown I”?
• To follow Jesus and to be with him, twenty-four hours a day, and allow his way of living to become my way of living and of living together with others. Is this taking place in me?

5) Concluding Prayer

May the words of my mouth always find favour,
and the whispering of my heart,
in your presence, Yahweh,
my rock, my redeemer. (Ps 19,14)


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Last revised: 24 April 2008