To get the full irony of the disciples’ argument today—who among them was the greatest—we need to know what happened in the section before and what we’ll hear in the following section of Mark’s ninth chapter.
In the previous section, which we don’t hear in the Sunday lectionary, the disciples failed to exorcise a demon from a boy. When they asked Jesus why they couldn’t heal him, he basically said it was because they didn’t pray (9:29). Next Sunday, the disciples will complain to Jesus that someone outside their circle was doing what they couldn’t do with the boy. And today, the disciples choose silence over looking stupid, refraining from asking questions even though they don’t understand Jesus’s teaching.Jesus shows us how to get beyond our fragile egos. First, pray. The work of God’s reign is not about what you can or can’t do but about what God is doing for those with faith. Then shift your focus from yourself to the powerless. Click To Tweet
We can be a lot like the disciples: insecure, resentful, and afraid of seeming incompetent. But Jesus shows us how to get beyond our fragile egos. First, pray. The work of God’s reign is not about what you can or can’t do but about what God is doing for those with faith.
Then shift your focus from yourself to the powerless—the insignificant, unimportant ones upon whose backs the powerful vie for even more status through systems that keep the defenseless in place. The lowly ones of the world are sacraments of God’s presence. When we fix our gaze upon them, great will be the work God does through us.
This post was first published in “GIA Quarterly: A Liturgical Music Journal.”
Image credit: Photo by Habib Dadkhah on Unsplash.
Read more reflections on the Sunday readings here:
- Avoiding “small-minded” discipleship
- A shift in focus
- At the Crossroads
- Messy but Life-Changing
- True Observance