Homily for the twenty-fifth Sunday of the year - Year B - Mk. 9:30-37


by

Father Daniel Meynen
 
 

" They went on from there and passed through Galilee. And he would not have any one know it; for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, 'The Son of man will be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him; and when he is killed, after three days he will rise.' But they did not understand the saying, and they were afraid to ask him.


" And they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, 'What were you discussing on the way?' But they were silent; for on the way they had discussed with one another who was the greatest. And he sat down and called the twelve; and he said to them, 'If any one would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.'


" And he took a child, and put him in the midst of them; and taking him in his arms, he said to them, 'Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.' "




Homily:


" ... he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, 'The Son of man will be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him; and when he is killed, after three days he will rise.' But they did not understand the saying, and they were afraid to ask him."


Through all his life, through everything that constitutes the very essence of his person, Jesus is the Christ, the one whom God chose to bring to the world the life-giving Spirit, the Spirit who is Lord and who gives Life, as we say in the Creed. So one cannot reasonably think that Jesus would die one day: he should have been able to live forever, to always and ceaselessly spread the Spirit who gives life to the world. So when Jesus speaks of his death, we are a little like the disciples: we don't understand what Jesus means.


However, Jesus will soon explain his words; on the eve of his Passion, he will say to his disciples: "If I do not go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you." (John 16:7) The Holy Spirit will come to us through the Passion of Christ: the Spirit who gives Life cannot be dissociated from the Passion and the Death of the Lord Jesus! For it is precisely in his Passion and in his Death that Jesus, manifesting all his Love for his Father, truly attains the depths of this Spirit who is the personified Love of the Father and the Son. Indeed, it is on the Cross of Calvary that Jesus offered himself in sacrifice to his Father "through the eternal Spirit" (Heb. 9:14).


" And they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, 'What were you discussing on the way?' But they were silent; for on the way they had discussed with one another who was the greatest. And he sat down and called the twelve; and he said to them, 'If any one would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.' "


Here Jesus does not condemn the desire to be first. What Jesus condemns is the act of speaking and communicating this desire to others. For this desire can very well come from God himself. Is Jesus himself not the Head of the Church, the firstborn of a multitude of brothers? Jesus did indeed have the desire to be the first, for God wanted it to be so. But he did nothing against those who brought him down to the lowest rank, putting him on the same level as bandits and criminals. For Jesus trusted his Father; he knew that after being humbled on the Cross, his Father would exalt him above all: "Being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name." (Phil. 2:8-9)


" And he took a child, and put him in the midst of them; and taking him in his arms, he said to them, 'Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.' "


The child about whom Jesus speaks is an image. Jesus uses this comparison to introduce the reality of his mission on earth: that of being the representative of the Father, his perfect Image, the one whom the Father himself sends to speak to men in his name. So he who receives a little child in the name of Jesus is not receiving a child, but rather Jesus himself through the intermediary of that child. Certainly, the child is not really Jesus. But Jesus is truly one God with his Father: thus, when we receive Jesus, it is truly the Father whom we receive. "If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him." (John 14:23)


If the Father and Jesus are there, then the Holy Spirit is there too: for the Father and the Son live always in the unity of the Holy Spirit. More precisely, if Jesus speaks of himself here in an abstract way, if Jesus presents himself not in his own name but rather in the name of his Father, if he effaces himself, so to speak, before his Father, then the Holy Spirit fully manifests himself: he who is the Love of the Father and of the Son fully reveals himself in the effacement of the Son. " If I do not go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you." (John 16:7) May Mary, who always effaced herself before her Son, help us today to receive the Holy Eucharist! Through the Mother of God, may the Father come to us in the sacrament of his Son!



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