January 16, 2015
Dear brothers and sisters,
The good news at the end of the week continues in Mark 9:30-32.
They 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 he will rise.” But they did not understand the saying, and they were afraid to question him.
No wonder the disciples were afraid to question Jesus. He had been pretty harsh with them about their lack of understanding and faith. However, they had enough faith to continue to journey with him, listening and struggling to understand what he was telling them. They had to be torn what with all this talk of his impending death, the loss of someone whom they loved and had given up everything to follow. It was crazy talk. Why was he so determined to face this fate? Wouldn’t it be so much beneficial if he continued his ministry to the poor and sick and proclaiming God’s love? They had witnessed Jesus bringing others back to life, but if he were dead, who could do it?
They didn’t know and couldn’t know really that Jesus had reached a turning point. His public ministry in Galilee was over and he was now focused on his clash with the authorities and consequential suffering and death. His disciples either could not understand or accept that this was God’s divine plan and that Jesus would be raised through God’s power, not brought back to life but transformed into new life. How could they “get” something so far out, so far beyond reality as they knew it? It was this inability and stubborn denial that exasperated Jesus so much. They weren’t able to cross that threshold of complete surrender, of trusting faith in God’s design no matter what it was. They were unable “to accept the challenge of discipleship” as Moloney puts it in The Gospel of Mark.
The challenge of discipleship — the ability to surrender and trust. That’s my challenge every single day! Barclay writes, “Sometimes we are amazed that they did not grasp what was so plainly spoken. The human mind has an amazing faculty for rejecting what it does not wish to see. Are we so very different? Over and over again we have heard the Christian message. We know the glory of accepting it and the tragedy of rejecting it, but many of us are just as far off as ever we were from giving it our full allegiance and molding our lives to fit it. Men still accept the parts of the Christian message which they like and which suit them, and refuse to understand the rest.” Isn’t that the truth! That’s why I love our new Pope so much. He is a living model for me of what it means to be a Christian, accepting the whole message of Christ which is acceptance and love for all people, all people regardless of whether they follow all the rules of the Church or not. It’s the same now as it was when Jesus was walking toward Jerusalem. Pope Francis is showing me what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. It’s up to me to surrender and trust in God’s divine plan, God’s unconditional love for me, His care of my needs. There are moments when I do, but they seem to be few and far between. Still, Jesus never gives up on me; he never abandons me. That’s the good news!