Scripture: Lectionary 349. Sirach 36:1.5-6.10-17. Psalm 97: 126.96.36.199.
Three times in Scripture is an indication of something being important;
something that is serious. Jesus warns or tells his disciples that he will
suffer, die, and be resurrected after this final trip to Jerusalem. All
four Gospels have this within them. John alone departs from the direct
language of Jesus and puts it in the symbolic word “hour.” The hour is
mentioned three times in reference to the Passion, Death, and Resurrection
of the Lord.
Today’s selection from Mark is a masterpiece, a blueprint, a summary of his
whole Gospel. It refers to the Paschal Mysteries of Jesus. He is revealing
to the twelve disciples his suffering and death and resurrection in direct
and plain language. They are still in wonder about him and are not fully
aware of his words on many occasion. They do not want to hear anything that
would take away from their concept of his being the messiah promised to
Israel. Theirs is a royal and powerful image of messiaship; Jesus,
however, is the Servant-Messiah, the Suffering Messiah.
James and John are among the privilege of being among the first called by
Jesus. They think they should be seated at his right and left hand when he
comes into his royal glory as their messiah. They are thinking their own
human thoughts; Jesus, however, is always thinking the thoughts of God and
on this occasion he is explaining to them the mystery of his life which is
bound up with suffering and dying for sinful humanity. The other ten
become aware of their presumption and are jealous. Strife and tension is
flooding their minds and they are angry at John and James usurping any
extra privileges beyond what they expect for themselves. They, too, are
thinking human thoughts. Mark has as his point of view, think the thoughts
of God not of humans. All twelve fail in this respect till after Jesus is
risen from the dead.
Jesus speaks to us his living words just as he said them to the twelve:
“Whoever wants to be first must serve the needs of all.” Jesus is the
servant of the servants of God and his claim to be the messiah is bound up
with God’s will for him to be the Suffering Servant who offers his life for
the many. Our own following of Jesus makes us particpators in the mystery
of the Cross. This is central to Mark’s Gospel. There is no way to escape
the Cross if we want to experience the Glory of the Risen Christ. There
must be a Good Friday if there is to be an Easter Sunday. Are commitment
to Jesus started with our baptism when we were sacramentally buried with
Jesus so that we might rise with him. In the Eucharist we drink of the
chalice of Jesus which involves uniting ourselves to him in our sufferings
and in our death when that comes. In our prayer today we should attempt to
think the thoughts of God and not our own thoughts. Amen.