Gospel: Mk 9:30-37
After leaving that place, they made their way through Galilee; but Jesus did not want people to know where he was because he was teaching his disciples. And he told them, “The Son of Man will be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, but three days after he has been killed, he will rise.“ The disciples, however, did not understand these words and they were afraid to ask him what he meant.
They came to Capernaum and, once inside the house, Jesus asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?“ But they did not answer, because they had been arguing about who was the greatest.
Then he sat down, called the Twelve and said to them, “If someone wants to be first, let him be last of all and servant of all.“ Then he took a little child, placed him in their midst, and putting his arms around him he said to them, “Whoever welcomes a child such as this in my name, welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me, welcomes not me, but the One who sent me.“
Prepare yourself for trials
The opening verse of our reading today, “My son, if you have decided to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for trials“ is beautifully echoed by St. Benedict, father of the Benedictine Order, in the prologue of his Holy Rule for monks. One who seeks to take seriously the Christian life, like the monks or any other serious minded Christian, must be ready to endure discipline. Perfection in the Christian way of life demands much sacrifice. In particular, St. Benedict taught the monks to observe the discipline of obedience and to grow in humility, or more precisely, to be willing to be humiliated! St. Benedict spoke of 12 steps or grades of humility!
Jesus in the Gospel was also teaching his disciples in much the same vein like Ben Sirach, our first reading, when He told them of His impending suffering, his humiliation. Unfortunately, his disciples could not quite understand their Master. Jesus was teaching them that the way to the “top“ was by going down “below!“ Such is the Christian paradox! To be great one must become little! To lead, one must serve!
Today we are called to become wise! Ben Sirach tells us to be resolute, and when the going gets tough, the tough get going but humbly and in obedience like Jesus who embraced death, death on a cross!