Didn’t Understand the Saying

Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Wisdom 2:12 , 17 - 20

The wicked say: Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us; he sets himself against our doings, reproaches us for transgressions of the law and charges us with violations of our training. Let us see whether his words be true; let us find out what will happen to him. For if the just one be the son of God, God will defend him and deliver him from the hand of his foes. With revilement and torture let us put the just one to the test that we may have proof of his gentleness and try his patience. Let us condemn him to a shameful death; for according to his own words, God will take care of him.

James 3:16 - 4:3

Beloved: Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every foul practice. But the wisdom from above is first of all pure, then peaceable, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without inconstancy or insincerity. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace for those who cultivate peace. Where do the wars and where do the conflicts among you come from? Is it not from your passions that make war within your members? You covet but do not possess. You kill and envy but you cannot obtain; you fight and wage war. You do not possess because you do not ask. You ask but do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.

Mark 9:30-37

Jesus and his disciples left from there and began a journey through Galilee, but he did not wish anyone to know about it. He was teaching his disciples and telling them, “The Son of Man is to be handed over to men and they will kill him, and three days after his death the Son of Man will rise.” But they did not understand the saying, and they were afraid to question him. They came to Capernaum and, once inside the house, he began to ask them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” But they remained silent. They had been discussing among themselves on the way who was the greatest. Then he sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.” Taking a child, he placed it in the their midst, and putting his arms around it, he said to them, “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me.”

In this Sunday’s gospel reading, Jesus continued to prepare his disciples for his death and resurrection, telling them, ““The Son of Man is to be handed over to men and they will kill him, and three days after his death the Son of Man will rise” (Mk 9:31). Unfortunately “they did not understand the saying” (Mk 9:32).

But why didn’t they? Was it so hard to understand something already foretold everywhere in the Old Testament, by different people (especially the prophets), at different times, and in so many different ways?

Take the first reading as an example: “Let us see whether his words be true; let us find out what will happen to him. For if the just one be the son of God, God will defend him and deliver him from the hand of his foes” (Wis 2:17-18)

Doesn’t this ring a bell? Yes, that was exactly what happened to Jesus in the gospel (see Mt. 27:43)! My heart skipped a beat when I read this passage. Scripture cannot be clearer in revealing the trials and tribulations of the future Messiah through the inspired author of the Book of Wisdom some 100 years before he was even born!

Again: “Let us condemn him to a shameful death” (Wis 2:20). A shameful death was what awaited Jesus when he made his triumphant entrance into Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover.

Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit to enlighten his disciples after his death, resurrection, and ascension. And so he did: We read about the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the Church on Pentecost in Acts 2. But before then – until their hearts were touched by the Holy Spirit – “they did not understand the saying” (Mk 9:32) in spite of all the “clues” that God had given them through the OT scriptures.

No wonder the resurrected Jesus had to exclaim in exasperation when he met the two disciples on the road to Emmaus who also “did not understand the saying”: “Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” (Luke 24:25-26).With the help of the Holy Spirit, they finally understood and said: “Were not our hearts burning (within us) while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32). Until our hearts are “burning within us”, until they are touched by the Holy Spirit, we will continue to “not understand the saying”.

Posted: September 20, 2015

Edmond Lo

As a Catholic speaker, writer and RCIA Catechist, Edmond is very active in promoting and defending the Catholic faith. He has a MBA, a CPA-CMA, and a MTS (Master of Theological Studies) from U.T., St. Augustine's Seminary. Having worked many years as the CFO of a non-profit organization, he retired at 55 to follow his special vocation of evangelization. The activities he conducts include the CMCC Bible Study Program, the Catechism Revisited Program, the FLL Spiritual Formation Program, Living in the Holy Tradition, RCIA, family groups and retreats, etc. Edmond is a member of the FLL Core Team. He writes Sunday Mass reflections regularly for the weekly FLL NewSpiration. His personal blog: http://elodocuments.blogspot.com/

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