Sirach 2:1-11 – Psalm 37 – Mark 9:30-37
“My son, when you come to serve the Lord, stand in justice and fear, prepare yourself for trials.”
These words from the beginning of our Scripture reading from the Book of Sirach – also know as Eccleiastes – are underlined in red in my bible because they are so important for us to know when we decide to follow Jesus. I often use them whenever I’m giving a talk to aspiring Dominicans or any people just beginning their Christian journey.
This Scripture reading is a good one for us to hear as we move toward the start of Lent in a few weeks. Now, we have to get down to the business of seriously following the Lord. It might be good to go back and read this scripture passage again. Go slowly and savor each phrase. Hear how encouraging the Lord is with us. Every word is packed with hope. Don’t let the word, “fear” turn you off. Substitute a better word, “awe” as in “I stand [before you] in absolute wonder…”
The Responsorial Psalm continues this theme of how we should follow the Lord with the promise that He will always save us as we make our journey. This reminds me of the three falls of Jesus in the Stations of the Cross and also of Peter’s triple denial and the fact that there is no sin that can totally separate us from His forgiveness. These are great concepts that act as a frame that keeps us on the right path.
Then, in today’s Holy Gospel, Jesus gives us the conditions of following Him by warning us, “If anyone wishes to be first, … be the last and servant of all.” Today’s Gospel passage ends with the image of a child. Not that we are to be “childish” but that we are to have those trusting characteristic of a child that is dependent on others and can stand in awe of God’s love. Amen!