The 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time – 19th September 2021
Lectionary Readings: Wis. 2:12.17-20; Ps. 54:3-4, 6-8; James 3:16-4:3; Mark 9:30-37
Theme: Service and suffering: part of the Christian life.
In the gospel of today from Mark, we witness Jesus praising little children. “Whoever welcomes a child such as this for my sake welcomes me” (Mark 9:37). In another situation in the gospel of Matthew, Jesus insists on letting the children remain because they are not bothering him: “Let the children alone, and do not stop them coming to me; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs” (Matt. 19:14). Finally, Jesus tells his followers that they must become like children: “Unless you change and become little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 18:3). I have witnessed in years past, these readings are top favorites when it comes to Children’s Liturgy.
In all the sayings and miracles of Jesus, he will always challenge us to look beyond his words and deeds. Look beyond the bread you eat and see your Savior and your Lord. The physical bread places us in an unfathomable communion with the Lord.
What are beyond and behind these teachings on children? In our modern era, we are especially super sensitive to the rights and the dignity of children. In biblical times, this was not the case: children represented the most neglected segment of society. Jesus chooses a child to make a point that all human beings are made in the image of God. “Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers and sisters you do it unto to me” (Matt. 25:40). Everyone, having infinite value, deserves the same respect, love, and care. “The dignity of the human person stems from this identification with Christ.” (P.Grogan p. 97)
Another level, lesson, or moral on this “childlikeness”, is the teaching of Jesus on the necessity of humility and service for his followers. On the road to Capernaum, the disciples were deliberating on the human value of whom the greatest among them is. Who is the greatest in the teaching of Jesus? Jesus, himself is our model. “I came to serve not to be served” (Matt. 20:28). At the washing of the feet, Jesus exemplified how to be lowly and humble not asserting his rights but taking the lowly position of a servant or child.
Another point to ponder from our Gospel text: I ask myself, what is the state of the mind of Jesus regarding his mission at this point in time? We know that the Galilean ministry has come to an end with rejection even in his hometown. In verses 30 to 32, Jesus speaks again of his passion. They are now in Capernaum, perhaps in the house of Peter, Jesus not wanting people to know of his whereabouts. Jesus is focusing on preparing his apostles for the final rejection awaiting him in Jerusalem. I have mentioned this a few times, in other Sunday Reflections, on how Jesus resolutely and most determinedly set his eyes on the road to Jerusalem, on the Via Dolorosa, the road to Calvary.
For Reflection and Discussion: 1. How do I regard and practice the virtues of humility and service? 2) Looking at the mission of Jesus, how is my mission? 3. How am I coping with suffering and pain in my mission?
Bibliography: Patricia Grogan. Christian Community Bible (Quezon City: 2005)
This week’s Sunday Liturgy Commentary was prepared by
‘Aliki ‘A Langi, Tonga, Bat Kol Alumnus: 2005, 2018