Monday, March 16, 2015, Day 23
Mark 9:30-50 (NRSV)
Who doesn't like to be recognized for their achievements?
Which of us doesn't want to be known as the best in our chosen field?
It is not surprising that just after Jesus speaks to the disciples about his death and resurrection that they begin to argue about which of them is the top dog.
It is tough for us to be selfless when the ego demands so much attention.
When Jesus puts a little child among them, it is difficult for us to understand from a first century perspective. Children were not acknowledged or esteemed as they are today. They had no respect and were considered property until they came of age.
Children had no human rights.
So for Jesus to identify himself with children would be to identify with the least of these. We find a more familiar understanding of the least from Matthew 25:37-40 with the hungry, sick and imprisoned.
To further lift up a revolutionary understanding of children, Jesus concludes that we would endanger ourselves in God's eyes if we were to harm them. This prioritizes children above adults which would have turned their world upside down.
In the 21st Century United States, this doesn't seem revolutionary at all. The influence of this scripture has brought our worldview on children in line with the Gospel.
Mark also inserts this obscure story about a man casting out demons in Jesus' name who did not follow them. Rather than get upset, Jesus indicates that this isn't a problem.
This passage gives us the idea that Christianity should be a religion of generosity toward the other. What does it mean for us to consider being last or servant to all?
Prayer attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, 13th century:
Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace;
|St. Francis by Albert Chevallier Tayler (oil on canvas)|
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is error, truth;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.