February 21st, 2023

The Gospel according to Mark (9:30-37) 

Jesus and his disciples 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 the Son of Man will rise.” 
But they did not understand the saying,
and they were afraid to question him.

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.
For they had been discussing among themselves on the way
who was the greatest. 

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.”


Today, on this, the last day of Ordinary Time before we begin the season of Lent tomorrow, we have a Gospel that both challenges us, and prepares us for Lent.

It’s easy to wonder how it could be that the disciples of Jesus were so un-comprehending of what Jesus was saying to them.  We forget how revolutionary the possibility of someone being raised from the dead was to those early followers.  We’ve had plenty of time and scholars down through the ages who have helped us better comprehend the reality of Jesus’ resurrection, but Peter and the others didn’t have that.

In the Gospel of Mark commentary that I use as one of my references, the author, Mary Healy, suggests another reason for the disciples being afraid to ask about this remarkable saying.  She says: “Perhaps we can glimpse a fraction of their bafflement by observing our own reaction to a heavy cross in our life.  Surely this can’t be part of God’s plan!  How could any good ever come of it?  It is no wonder that the disciples were afraid to probe Jesus any further.”  It shows their complete devotion to their Teacher and their fear that He was not speaking figuratively but literally about laying down His life.

For me and my fellow members of the San Gabriel region in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, we can easily see the shocking death of our regional Bishop, David O’Connell, as such a heavy cross.  It’s such a tragedy for this to happen to a man who had such a servant’s heart, but we can comfort ourselves with knowing that Bishop Dave has been rewarded with a place in heaven.  We trust in the love of our loving Lord to help us mourn his loss, but to trust that Bishop Dave is there with Jesus now, praying for each of us.

As we look ahead to our Lenten journey, may we seek to accept Jesus’ way like a child, and to seek to draw closer to Him by prayer, fasting and almsgiving this Lent.  May we accept the heavy crosses that we are given, knowing that we don’t carry them alone.  Let us trust that just as Jesus rose from the dead, He will call all of us to be with Him forever.

Action for the Day:

Look for where you are struggling with whatever crosses God has laid upon you, and ask Him to help you bear the weight, and that you grow in love for Him and for everyone through this Lenten season.

If you would like to hear this reflection, click the link below! 

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