Reflection on the Daily Readings for 2/20/09 by Fr. Bertrand Buby, SM
Scripture: 6th Friday, Feb.20,2009. Genesis 11:1-9. Psalm
33:10-11.12-13.14-15. Mark 8:34-9:1.Lectionary # 339:
This fascinating story about the tower of Babel is a imaginative
creation of the inspired writer to explain the diversity of language that
developed early in the stages of humankind. It is God (Yahweh) who
confounds those who thought they could reach the heavens with their mortar
and brick. It is an advancement in human culture but has the temptation
for those who built this tower or ziggurat to think they could be their own
creators. This building stood next to a Mesopotamia temple and may have
implications of idolatry. It could also represent a cosmic mountain–made
by humans–and symbolizing the earth. Babel comes from a Semitic word that
means confusion. Babylon gets its name from this word. The simplicity and
down-to-earth theology of the Yahwistic tradtion is evident in this
The haughty words of a Babylonian King who is cited in Isaiah
14:13-14 come to mind: “I will climb to the sky; higher than the stars of
God. I will set my throne and I will match the Most High!” God’s powerful
reaction is to come down! and then to spread those who built the tower in
all directions mumbling strange sounds to one another, babbling, and
speaking alien tongues. This is an etymological and creative way for
describing how the various languages came about plus some foundation in
reality of a king thinking he could equal the Most High God of Israel.
If we fast-forward to the upper room in the Acts of the Apostles we
will see that the Holy Spirit brings together those who were set apart by
their different sounds in language and cultural expressions. Where the
Spirit is then there is God’s unity among humans and they begin to sense
peace and joy. Love then follows.
In today’s pericope from Mark Jesus is showing his disciples and the
crowd following him how difficult the call to be with him as a
disciple-apostle demands a radical commitment of one’s life. Sacrifice is
central to the call to follow Jesus all the way to his death on the cross.
Such commitment is very difficult these days when there are so many choices
to make in life and people are living in a very fast world. Commitment is
difficult because it takes us away from many attractive alternatives.
However, the commitment that Jesus offers us when we really follow him with
focused attention brings joy, peace, and wholesomeness. We have time to be
friends and to learn how to share that friendship with others. We even can
take time to say hello while breaking away from our cell phones or our
headphones. Let us give the call of Jesus a chance to be heard amidst all
of the sounds around us. Amen.