Saint for the day: Cristobal Magallanes & Companions (d. between 1915 & 1937
James 4:1-10 – Psalm 55 – Mark 9:30-37
“Had I but wings like a dove, I would fly away and be at rest. Far away I would flee; I would lodge in the wilderness.” (Psalm 55:7-8)
After reading today’s first scripture from the letter of James, I can see why the liturgists choose the above verse from Psalm 55 as the kick-off for our Responsorial Psalm.
James is coming down hard on the people about their “two-sidedness” and warns them, “whoever wants to be a lover of the world makes himself an enemy of God. (James 4:5)
Our Gospel picks up on this when Jesus catches his disciples arguing over who is the greater. We can see that, even in the time of Jesus, there was a tendency to seek success and notoriety – according to this world’s idea of success. But the disciples must have known that this went against what Jesus was trying to make them understand since they all lowered their heads – avoiding His eye contact – and remaining silent.
I think Jesus probably surprised the disciples when he took the little child as an example saying, “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.” (Mark 9:35)
What is It that Jesus is trying to get across to His disciples – and, in fact, to us, too?
None of us has contempt for little children. Most of us think of them as “cute” but probably not very sophisticated and certainly not as cunning as we tend to be. And that might be just the point that Jesus is trying to get us to understand. In the first place children are dependent. They can’t make it on their own. They need others to look after them. On the other side, the world seeks independence and individuality all leading to getting to the top and being “king of the mountain!”
The last line of today’s Holy Gospel puts it all out there for us to understand: “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.” (Mark 9:37)
The world seeks independence and success. The Gospel urges us to be the servant of all. The world promises to give us everything that we want or need; The Gospel tells us that if we want to know eternal life we must be willing to lay down our life for others. One good deed done for someone who needs help could be our ticket to eternal life.
I’m reminded of the priest who ended the Mass by slightly altering the last blessing/dismissal by saying, “May the peace of Christ profoundly disturb you!” I’m pretty sure that doing this disturbed the people but not in the way he intended. If our encounter with Jesus doesn’t change us, in at least some way, we have to ask ourselves whom we have encountered and what has it done for our Christian walk. Our “bottom line” has to be, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you.” (Gospel 6:33)
Not all of us are called to be evangelists or great religious teachers but we are all called to be witnesses or “Christ bearers” to our world so desperately in need of the “Light of Christ” and His healing touch. Try to be a “Christ Light bearer” just for today; bringing a ray of hope to someone walking in the shadow of darkness. You’ll be surprised at what you, yourself get on the rebound. Amen!