Tuesday of the Seventh Week of Ordinary Time

Lectionary: 342

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.

The Gospel of Saint Mark is burdened with tension, especially with the misunderstandings of Jesus’ disciples. Each brings a lifetime of expectations about the Messiah and about discipleship; and, despite the disciple's willingness he can’t seem to reshape his thinking within the mind of Christ.
The scientific community sometimes sees these calcified attitudes as their researchers age. They were trained in certain principles and concepts – which were new and exciting at the time – and they cannot allow these old ideas to be supplanted by newer, more subtle insights. Some of these old fellows actually developed the breakthrough concepts of the last generation and they’re still waiting for the rest of the community to catch on.

Then one day they wake up to realize, “My future has passed.” and what they had envisioned will never happen. The circumstances that were supposed to provide a window of opportunity never happened. The road they took was the road less taken, and no one followed. Eventually they retire or die and the next generation faces the same cycle of new insights and challenges.
This cycle plays itself out among the physical and social sciences. It is also true of philosophers and theologians. But the latter are especially reluctant to accept new ways of thinking because they claim ownership of, and feel they must defend, "The Truth."

Jesus knows the window of opportunity when he must teach his disciples how to think, see and respond is dreadfully short. His enemies are closing in on him and his disciples are still squabbling like children about “who is the greatest among them.” He teaches service and they want mastery! He teaches obedience and sacrifice and humility and they want command, control and supremacy.
He can only hope to give them powerful examples, ineradicable memories that the Holy Spirit will use to explain what must happen in Jerusalem. Was his going to Jerusalem despite all the warnings something like the behavior of an obedient child? Was his silence before his accusers a sign of his being the last of all and the servant of all? Was his resurrection, even after his last despairing cry of total abandonment, a sign of God’s fidelity? And is that how we should live?
Jesus, as Saint Mark tells the story, continually knocks against the stony hardness of his disciples’ understanding. They will not understand anything he says until he is raised up; and yet they must be drawn to him as certainly as iron to a magnet, as heavy weights to earth, as flowers to sunlight – as living things to death.
They will die with him on Calvary. All their hopes, expectations, understandings, desires and ambitions will fail on that day. They will have neither reason to live nor hope for satisfaction once the sun has set on Calvary. And then, come Easter, they will begin to understand.

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.