25th Ordinary Sunday                                                           Mark 9:30-37

I have 11 grand children. When all the family come to grandpa's house it is exciting. Once they get together it's like the Olympics — let the games begin. Then it's hide and seek, tag your it, touch your nose and hit the ceiling or who knows what they play? All I know is that soon their parents are loudly proclaiming, "stop running in the house."  All calms down for about 10 minutes and then there is a second and a third, "stop running in the house." Finally the boys are separated from the girls and sent outside to run until their hearts content. The point is, the kids don't get it. No matter how many times you tell them they just don't get it. Their excitement and their energy gets the best of them and nothing else sinks in. They are wrapped in their own enjoyment and that's all, it’s fun with cousins, and there is good food by grandma, and grandpa has candy and treats.

We have a similar situation in the gospel over the last two weeks. Jesus first asks the apostles who people think that he is. This is his way of impressing upon them that he is, in fact, the Messiah, the Christ. But not the Messiah that they have been raised to expect, because the Jewish view of Messiah, was a king, a general with a large army, who comes to free Israel — this was wrong thinking as I explained last week. God's idea of the Messiah entails his Son, as the Christ, who comes to reconcile the human race, seperated from God by Original Sin. It is the will of the Father that this will be done by virtue of a perfect sacrifice to save the people. Therefore, Jesus explains to the twelve that men will attack him and kill him but then, having comquered sin and death, he will rise again after three days and in doing so he frees the human race and redeems them for eternal life. After explaining this to his apostles they proceed to Galilee and as they walk along the way the apostles are discussing things among themselves. When they reach Capernaum Jesus repeats that he will be killed and rise again after three days. Then he asks them what they have been discussing as they travelled.  Jesus, like any good lawyer, never asks a question for which he already has the answer.  Jesus desired that they discussed the meaning and the reasoning behind his discussion of death and rising— But no! Like the grandchildren they just don’t get it. They were talking about who is the most important among them. The apostles are human, like us. How many times do we get wrapped up in our economic or social goals, worrying over this or that, we stress about our status among our peers, does everybody love us, respect us, give us our due. Before we commit to any volunteering we want to know how this will help us, is it convenient, will it interfere with our plans. This is the thinking of most human persons, — however, it is not the thinking of God.

As a last resort, Jesus takes a child wraps his arms around it, and explains that in order to be first, they must be servants to each other and to all; for whoever takes care of the least, the poorest, in his name, receives the Father as well. Jesus uses a child as a symbol of the least because in those ancient times children had no status, no recognition. They were there to be loved but not to be heard. To follow Jesus as Messiah we can never be self-centered. Jesus wants the apostles to walk in his shoes, to follow his lead. The over-riding virtues of true greatness of Jesus are humility and service. This vocation to service belongs to the Church as a whole and to every member of the Church individually. In 1976 India’s Prime Minister, Indira Ghandi, said in reference to St. Mother Teresa, “I feel myself dwarfed when I stand before this holy and mighty woman, who heroically showed the world how to practice Christian love in sacrificial and humble service.” Upon her death in 1997, St. John Paul II said, “Mother Teresa marked the history of our century with courage. She served all human beings by promoting their dignity and respect, making them feel the tenderness of God.” She was the living proof of Jesus’  words in today’s gospel. History teaches us that when the Church has ignored this call to service, the Church has suffered. And that has never been more obvious than today.

St. Mother Teresa wasn’t like the first apostles, she got it. She understood Jesus words and accepted them and went out and did what Jesus asked. I know we all can't be on the scale of St. Mother Teresa but we can certainly listen to St. James who lays it on the line for us. "Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. — But the wisdom from above is pure, peaceable, gentle and open to reason."

I leave you with the motto of the Missionaries of Charity, the order of nuns founded by St. Mother Teresa:

The fruit of silence is Prayer.

The fruit of Prayer is Faith.

The fruit of Faith is Love.

The fruit of Love is Service.

And the fruit of Service is Peace.

My brothers and sisters, it is peace that we need so dearly in the world today.

Ext meeting © JOSEPH MEILINGER 2021