TWENTY-FIFTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Everlasting Story: Your Story and Mine
First Reading (Wis 2: 12, 17-21): Evil causes us to lose our reason
Second Reading (Jas 3: 16-4:3): Quarrels come from our selfish desires
.Gospel (Mk 9: 30-37): Second prediction of Passion and Rising; Who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?
-In the space of a day and night, flowers bloom and die. Between spring and winter, things perish and are renewed. Beneath the roaring cascade a deep pool is found: dark valley at the foot of high hills. These things you know: what more can divination teach you?”(1)
“They went on from there and passed through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know it; for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, ‘The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again.’ But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him. Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, ‘What were you arguing about on the way?’ But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. (Mk 9: 30-34)
This time we are not talking about the content of Scripture but rather what is ‘between the lines,’ that is, the attitudes of Jesus and his disciples. Jesus ‘did not want anyone to know’ where he and the disciples were going. He wanted to be alone with the disciples, away from the noise of the crowds, so that he could speak to them more deeply and seriously about the great events which were to take place soon: he would be rejected, betrayed and undergo his passion. The disciples did not understand and “were afraid to ask him.”
Isn't this often the reality of our lives? There are some things in this world we cannot understand, and also things we could understand but do not want or don't dare to understand. For example, after we have quarreled with our parents, do we want to understand their feelings? Do we dare to ask them? Is it that we don't want to know why the two people in the world who love us the most treat us this way?
When two friends who belong to opposing parties meet, are they interested to know each other's stance and the reasons behind it? I believe I myself am honest and sincere, do I admit they can be just as honest and sincere?
Are there not many things in this world that ‘the more we argue the less we understand’? Why do these things happen? Why is it that two friends sometimes turn and become enemies? Is one correct and the other wrong, or are both correct in some areas and mistaken in others?
Jesus liked to use parables to help the people understand more easily. But he also said that he spoke in parables, “in order that they may indeed look, but not perceive, and may indeed listen, but not understand.” (Mk 4:12) Certainly Jesus did not use parables to confuse his listeners; he used them to help them understand more easily. People did not understand because Jesus spoke too plainly; they didn't understand because they didn't want to accept his teachings. If they admitted they understood they would need to put his words into action and change their lives. For those who did not wish to do this, it was easier not to understand. In the end we must admit we are ‘sinners’ and sin is an obstacle to understanding Truth.
If we really understood the difficulties and patience our parents have endured, and most of all , their “kindness beyond all bounds,” how could we not love and obey them? If we do not love and obey them, it can only be that we do not understand them, or how much they have sacrificed for us. Some people then justify their thoughts and deeds by deriding them as ‘old-fashioned,’ senile, etc.
Today's Gospel includes another incident worth noting. Along the road the disciples had been arguing about who was the greatest. But when Jesus asked them about the topic of the argument, “they were silent.” Right, why tell Jesus about their weaknesses? Isn't this also true to life, something that easily occurs in all of our lives?
In a 1988 Vatican document on “Aspects of Religious Education in Catholic Schools”, in the section on ‘history curriculum’ the text says , ‘The protagonists in history are human persons themselves. History takes individual inner struggles between good and evil and enlarges them to portray the entire world.” (# 58). That is, the ‘History of Humankind’ is only the magnifying of ‘individual history;’ if an individual's history is a small triangle, the history of humankind is a large triangle. So the more we learn about our own history, the more we learn about the history of all humankind and vice versa.
In the Ming Dynasty, Liu Ji wrote these interesting lines in the treatise ‘Divination,’ “In the space of a day and night flowers bloom and die. Between spring and winter, things perish and are renewed. Beneath the roaring cascade a deep pool is found: dark valley at the foot of high hills. These things you know: what more can divination teach you?”(1) (‘Divination’) Grasp the principles of life and you will understand life; know life better and you will understand the past and the future. Why does one need divination?
Broaden that out a bit and we can say that Scripture tells us about the history of the human race, which is your and my history and the rules for history and life.
Scripture tells about an everlasting story, which is the story of you and me. Are we willing to use Scripture as a reflection of ourselves, providing light for our journey into the future?