25th Sunday in Ordinary Time - 23rd September, 2018

Liturgical Reflection

 
Wisdom 2:12.17-20; James3:16-4:3; Mark 9:30-37

 

The theme running through these readings is the mystery of suffering and how hard it is for human beings to accept that a loving God can allow suffering.

In the book of Wisdom, written just before the life of Jesus, we read what is a taunt or a prophecy: “The righteous man is God’s son, he will help him and deliver him from the hand of his adversaries. Let us test him with insult and torture that we may find out how gentle he is... Let us condemn him to a shameful death, for according to what he says, he will be protected.”

The letter of James deals with the challenges facing good people who live amid injustice. He appeals to new Christians to be compassionate and positive. “Peacemakers, when they work for peace, sow the seeds which will bear the fruits of holiness.”

Then we come to the Gospel where Jesus tries to tell his ambitious apostles that he is to be put to death. They don’t take in what he says. They argue about how important they are to be in this new Kingdom of power and status. But Jesus is a servant leader, not a privileged human king.

 

So Jesus calls a child and says, “Whoever welcomes this little one, welcomes me.” It is completely against their ideas of privilege.

Children are vulnerable in all societies and in every century. Today’s readings challenge us to look at ourselves in our time.

Why did a loving God allow the sexual abuse of children by those entrusted with their care in the church - and families - to be covered-up for so long?

Domestic violence, bullying in schools and workplaces, failure to insist on standards of care for vulnerable elderly and disabled people are sinful as well as unjust: so are decisions by businesses and banks to put profit before fairness, especially for vulnerable clients, even continuing to charge people long after they have died!

Where is Jesus? We know he is with the vulnerable children, stressed parents, the frail elderly - those who are suffering.

The mystery is still there. As followers of Jesus, we are called to servant leadership, to have our gentleness tested; to be peace makers in day to day living; to seek Jesus where he is certainly to be found- in our vulnerable neighbours.

Does God allow suffering so we can be part of God’s plan for setting things right in the long run? God can bring good out of suffering.

“Whoever welcomes the little ones - those in need - welcomes me.”

Rose Mary Kinne op