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Thursday, 16 September 2021 08:32

Celebrating At Home - 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Becoming a child

Today’s readings continue last Sunday’s themes of Jesus as the ‘suffering servant’ and the nature of authentic discipleship.

On the road through Galilee Jesus continues to instruct the disciples that he will suffer and die and rise again, but the disciples seem very slow to understand and are too afraid to ask him about it. Perhaps it is an awful truth they just don’t want to face. Maybe they want Jesus to be a ‘warrior-king’, a liberator who would restore Israel to greatness and crush the Romans. Perhaps they have begun to think of themselves as princes and rulers in this new Israel.

Among themselves the disciples are not discussing the important things Jesus has told them about who he is and his destiny, but fighting about which of them was the greatest - who will be first in line to receive honour, power and glory in the kingdom of Jesus.

Using a little child as an example Jesus tells the disciples that real leadership is about service and giving without expecting anything in return.

It’s hard for us to grasp the power of what Jesus says and does here. In his time, unlike now, children had no social status or value at all. Until adulthood they were nobodies. To welcome a child would have required a person to put aside all their ideas of self-importance and adult status in order ‘to simply meet the child as an equal, as “child” to child.’ This is what Jesus is telling the disciples to do. Even more astonishing, Jesus goes on to identify both himself and God with the little child!

This is a direct challenge to the disciples’ understanding of Jesus’ messiahship and to their notions about God. ‘Is God to be thought of as a kind of extraterrestial Ruler to whom nothing but fear and service is due? Or is the God revealed by Jesus a God whose primary gesture toward human beings is that of One who serves, One who comes among us in the guise of a child?’ Jesus’ unusual gesture of hugging a child in public expresses powerfully the preciousness of each and every human person in the sight of God, no matter how small, insignificant or young. We, too, are hugged by God in this moment.

Seeking glory is not the calling of the true disciple. Doing things in order to gain rewards is not the calling of the true disciple. Putting aside discrimination, status and power to proclaim God’s love, compassion, care, justice and forgiveness is.

Every Christian is called to this ministry of servant-leadership that is, to be leaders in the doing of service.

cf Byrne, Brendan, A Costly Freedom - A Theological Reading of Mark’s Gospel (Sydney, St Paul’s, 2008), pp 152-153

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Celebrating at Home is a Liturgy of the Word centred around the Gospel reading for each Sunday. It includes a reflection on the Gospel and prayers.

It can be used personally or with your family. Parts for all to pray are given in bold print and all the other parts can be shared among those present.

We hope that Celebrating at Home will be a source of nourishment and strength for all who use it.

In the room you decide to use for this prayer you could have a lighted candle, a crucifix and the Bible. These symbols help keep us mindful of the sacredness of our time of prayer and can help us feel connected with our local worshipping communities.

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