“They had argued with one another who was the greatest (9:34).

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 the workplace, have we ever wondered about our position in the team? Am I the best or one of the best in the team? From the worldly perspective, this is understandable; having put in time and effort, heart and mind into our work, we may inevitably and rightfully so, think about the return we can aspire to, some recognition, a raise, a promotion, and so forth.

Therefore it seems quite natural for the apostles, who at that time, have not received the Holy Spirit, to think about their discipleship in a human way. On their way through Galilee, Jesus was teaching his disciples and foretells his Death and Resurrection a second time. The prophecy could be frightening and confusing to the disciples, who “did not understand what he was saying” (Mk 9:32, Ref. Ignatius Catholic Study Bible New Testament P 82). They argued with one another who was the greatest (9:34).

When they were in Capernaum and in the house with Jesus, he called the twelve apostles and explained to them what true greatness is about, “Whoever wants to be the first must be last of all and servant of all” (9:35). In the eyes of God, greatness is measured by humility and service to others. As future leaders of the Church, the apostles must shun worldly honour and attention, in order that they can serve Christ more faithfully and effectively. Jesus himself puts this principle into practice, he said, “the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve”(10:45). (Ref. Ibid).

Today, if we find ourselves living among contentions and seeing increasing intensive conflicts and disputes in the world, St. James’ in the second reading offers us an insight into the root cause, “Where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind” (Jas 3:16). Humanity too easily yields to the inclinations of their fallen nature. Wars among men are an expression of the spiritual war within themselves. It is their unending drive for power and possessions that spreads envy and violence throughout the world. St. James advises us to aspire to true wisdom from above that is “first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy” (3:17). Such wisdom will transform our heart and mind, and bring forth a pure and peaceable life, “A harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace” (3:19, Ref. Ignatius Catholic Study Bible New Testament P. 442).

If the Son of Man does not come to be served but to serve, as followers of Christ, shouldn’t we strive to do the same and live a pure and peaceable life?

Posted: September 19, 2021

Shiu Lan

Shiu Lan is your Catholic neighbour with a simple faith and likes praying the Rosary. With a B.Sc from the University of Hong Kong, she worked in Information Technology and Project Management before working with joy at home.

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