Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, 23rd September

Mark 9:30–37

They went on from there and passed
through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know it; for he was teaching his
disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands,
and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again.”
But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him. Then
they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, “What were
you arguing about on the way?” But they were silent, for on the way they had
argued with one another who was the greatest. He sat down, called the twelve,
and said to them, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of



In St. Mark’s gospel, Jesus predicted
three times about his suffering, death and resurrection. The first prediction
took place immediately after his disciples professed their faith in Jesus as
the promised Messiah. Today’s reading from the gospel is his second prediction.
In between the two predictions, i.e. the first and the second time of his
prophecy concerning his suffering and death, Jesus gave Peter, James and John a
glimpse of the glory that would be his after the resurrection in the


The placing of the Transfiguration in
between of the first two predictions seems that Jesus would like to encourage
the apostles through their leaders to bear the “scandal”, which was his passion
and death that would soon take place in the near future. Though the apostles
knew Jesus was the Messiah, they had no idea what did it mean. His arrest and
death on the cross came to them as a shattering blow because they thought that
Messiah was supposed to be the most glorious on earth and that Jesus, who was
the Messiah, would use the mighty powers to defend himself against all enemies.
Jesus had to educate them three times about the meaning of being the Messiah
and to reinforce their faith in the Father’s salvation plan through him. The
third prediction of his passion and death in Mark is given in 10:32-34.


According to an ancient Christian
tradition, the Transfiguration took place in Mount Thabor. After the
Transfiguration, Jesus and his disciples went through Galilee. He did not want
the usual crowds to know of his prophecy because he wanted his disciples to be
the first witnesses so that with their faith in his resurrection they would
become his witnesses to lead the people.


However, even his disciples at this time
could not understand what Jesus was talking about. They simply could not grasp
the possibility of any enemy overcoming him. God’s salvation plan was still far
away from their mind. Despite their ignorance, they dared not to ask him. This
could be caused either by their refusal to admit their slowness of intellect,
or afraid that Jesus would spell out in explicit details a truth they had not
the heart to hear. Like the disciples, many of us nowadays still refuse to hear
any unwelcome forecast.


In contrast to Jesus’ prediction of his
passion and death, the disciples switched their mind to worldly matters. They
began to engage in arguing which of themselves was the most important and who
would hold the principal post in the earthly messiah kingdom which they still
expected Jesus to set up.


Knowing what they were arguing for, Jesus
did not reprove them for their worldliness because he knew their hearts.
Instead, he told them that his kingdom would be one of service. In his kingdom,
the principal post was held by a servant to all peoples. He then took a child
as a symbol of his followers that they were “little ones”. Once, they became
the “little ones” they would serve others as servants. And people who accepted
them, Jesus assured them, and listened to their message, would be accepting
Jesus Christ himself. He added that it was just like whoever accepted Jesus
accepted not only Jesus but also the one who sent him, God the Father.


Today’s thought for each of us is: Christ
became man, suffered and died as man, for our sakes. By his resurrection he
conquered death and opened heaven for us. Heaven is our true destiny. Loving
God and our neighbour and carrying our cross is the only way to reach heaven.
Accept Christ and we are accepting the Father who sent him. He will in turn accept
us. Amen.