Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (September 23, 2018)

At Jesus’ baptism by John in the Jordan, the Father had identified Jesus as his Son, the beloved one in whom he is well pleased. This is a reference to the “suffering servant” in the prophet Isaiah. The servant must suffer and die in order to fully actualize his identity.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus begins to prepare his disciples for what is to come. He identifies himself with the “just one’ in the Book of Wisdom which we heard in today’s first reading. He will be put to the test so as to give proof of his gentleness and patience. He will be condemned to a shameful death – and God will take care of him.

Mark comments that the disciples did not understand the saying and were afraid to question him. Apparently they distracted themselves by arguing about who was the greatest among them.

Jesus was not distracted and continued to teach them about himself and how they were to live. “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.” Jesus is among them as servant – the “suffering servant.”

The child Jesus places in their midst and embraces is how they are to receive him: peaceably, gently, without inconstancy or insincerity, open to wisdom from above.

Jesus comes to us as the “suffering servant” – Savior and Lord. He invites us to embrace him as he did the child. May we not allow ourselves to become distracted by petty, personal concerns. Let us accept Jesus as the First and Only in our lives, for he has shown us how to be the last and the servant of all.