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Today’s readings focus on how Christ would suffer at the hands of the perfidious and how to answer our fallen human nature’s drive to war and conflict.
In the first reading we read the foreshadowing account of what Jesus would face during the passion. He would be “obnoxious” to the people. They will turn against Him because He rebukes their lifestyles (Mark 10:2). The people fought back against Him. They tested Him and mocked Him because it says that “God will deliver Him” (Matthew 27:43). Like Christ, we too will be mocked and harassed for speaking up for the truth ((Matthew 5:11, Matthew 10:22, Matthew 24:9)). We will be called smugish overly virtusous people who are obtrusive and so on. This is what a follow of Christ is to expect. But God upholds our lives as the Psalm tells us today.
God is our savior (Psalm 68:19). It is in His name that we are saved (Acts 4:12, Romans 10:13). God hears our prayers even in bad times when we feel abandoned by Him (Psalm 116:1, Psalm 17:6, Psalm 3:4). All kinds of arrogant people will rise up against us (2 Chronicles 36:16). This is expected when we publicly profess our faith in Jesus. These people will seek our demise, slander us and may even put us to death. But we must not give up or become afraid. God will help us and will be there for us (Romans 8:31). We must live in love, not hate like the second reading tells us (Ephesians 5:2).
War, jealousy and so forth are things found in fallen human nature (Romans 1:18-32). These are the bad effects of Original Sin which brought about disorder in the world (Romans 5:12). Unfortunately, these will continue to plague us as we advance in our spiritual lives. We will see fellow Catholics who may be jealous of us, or we ourselves may become envious of the positions others hold in the Church. Sometimes we start wars in our communities, parishes, workplace and of course among nations. It seems like human beings love to fight each other. We fight over anything; religious, politics, places in line,material things, for the love or attention of others etc. These are the bad effects of Original sin.
This is what happens when we set aside the law of God. We become like primitive animals seeking only our selfish ambitions. The novel “The Mist” by Stephen King comes to mind. A movie was even made about it. In this story, scientists open up a dimension to another world where these insect-like creatures enter and wreak havoc upon humanity. A group of people are trapped in a supermarket and little by little they go from being civilized to uncivilized. The rule of law disappears so they become driven by the instinct to survive. Meanwhile, a fanatical and demented Protestant Bible thumper begins to capitalize on the events by associating them with the Bible. She becomes a Jim Jones type as the people begin to believe her and also become psychotic. They fight amongst each other. Human beings often have weak minds which are impressionable, especially to evil. We call this concupiscence (Romans 7:8, Colossians 3:5, CCC 1264). However, Christ it the key that unlocks these natural disordered instincts and sets us free (John 8:36, Galatians 5:1). We must trust Jesus and allow Him to transform our fallen human nature. In the Gospel, we will read how fallen human nature corrupts the mind.
In the Gospel, Jesus and His disciples begin a journey through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone knowing about it in order to avoid the crowds. He wanted to use this time to teach the disciples. Jesus tells them that “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.” They did not understand what He was referring to and clearly were not knowledgeable in Scripture (first reading which mentions this). When they had reached Capernaum, Jesus noticed that the disciples were arguing among themselves. He asks them, but they remained silent. We are told by the writer of the Gospel that they were arguing about who among them was the greatest. Jesus tells them, “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all. 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.” Jesus says this after placing a young child among them.
We see how Holy Mother Church has placed the readings in such a way that they connect. Jesus is the fulfillment of what was prophesied in the Old Testament (Matthew 5:17). He is this “Son of Man” who would be mocked and put to suffer a shameful and horrible death. This ties in to what we read in the first reading. Furthermore, the argument among the disciples is connected to the second reading in regards to human beings and their selfish ambitions and instinctual drive to hurt each other. Jesus says tells that they must be like children. Children can go to a park with their parents and play with other kids with ease. They play with other kids as if they knew them already. It is when they begin to “mature” that they start developing this sense of competition and inner drives to fight each other. We must be like children and be innocent (Matthew 18:4). Trust one another just like kids trust other kids at a playground and just have fun. If we were like “kids” like Jesus suggested, we would not have wars and all of these stupid conflicts that we create for absolutely no reason. Those who are not innocent before God like children cannot go to heaven (Mark 10:13-16).
We must be a servant to others and not seek positions of power or first place in order to gratify our egos (John 13:12-14, Mark 10:44-45). By being a servant, we show that we are secure in our egos. Serving others does not make us weak or a “push-over.” Lastly, we must be good to children, teach them well and protect them (Proverbs 22:6). Children are our greatest asset (Psalm 127:3-5). On the news we hear of Planned Parenthood selling unborn children body parts and some people out there defend this. It is just sickening. Recently a young Muslim boy was arrested simply for showing an electronic clock that he made which caused school officials to overreact due to Islamophobia. This is not how we should treat kids. We have to receive them, protect them, and teach them well (Matthew 18:2-6). Today, MTV, Pop singers, Rap singers and what not are raising our youth. They instill all kinds of crazy messages into their young minds. We must end this and restore the home as the first school and not let the “village” raise our kids. The best way to teach our kids is by being examples to them. We must show them that to be last is to be first. We must show them that serving others is the way we should go. May Jesus be praised forever.