English Español Mary Immaculate
Catholic Church / Pacoima, CA

Ask the Hard Questions

“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.” Mark 9:31

Today’s Gospel passage has two parts: Jesus’ announcement again of his coming suffering and death, and a scene with the disciples arguing about who is the “greatest.” Mark places these scenes next to each other to emphasize the disciples’ failure to understand. Their petty argument was the opposite of what Jesus had : described as the way to follow him. The disciples were following the common understanding of group status: to honor the influential and those
who seem to contribute the most. Jesus points to the opposite: he honors the vulnerable, the “least” in the community; in this case, a child. And he honors those who welcome the child.

Mark was addressing his own community in the early Church, who were seeking to learn how to live their faith. His questions may be important for us too. Who is honored in our faith community, and why? How do we honor those whom we set as examples? Who benefits from this different kind of greatness”?

Twice in today’s Gospel, Jesus’ disciples are reduced to silence. First when Jesus describes his future suffering and death, and again when caught in their argument about who sis the greatest. Perhaps they were afraid to really understand his teachings because of what it might cost them. Maybe they were afraid of being seen as ignorant by Jesus and especially each other. What if they had dared to admit their confusion and ignorance and asked Jesus hard questions? Would Jesus have welcomed them?

Jesus presents a child who is to be welcomed and embraced. The child sets an example: it is the child who knows that he or she doesn’t know. The child is free to ask “childlike” questions, and is open to answers. What if, in the intimacy of our prayer, we asked Jesus our Own hard, embarrassing questions: about life, about ourselves and our relationships, about God? How night our relationship with God then change?

Readings for the Week

Monday: Ezr 1:1-6; Ps 126:1b-6; Lk 8:16-18
Tuesday: Eph 4:1-7, 11-13; Ps 19:2-5; Mt 9:9-13
Wednesday: Ezr 9:5-9; Tb:13:2, 3-4abefghn, 7-8; Lk 9:1-6
Thursday: Hg 1:1-8; Ps 149:1b-6a, 9b; Lk 9:7-9
Friday: Hg 2:1-9; Ps 43:1-4; Lk 9:18-22
Saturday: Zec 2:5-9, 14-15a; Jer 31:10-12ab, 13; Lk 9:43b-45
Sunday: Nm 11:25-29; Ps 19:8, 10, 12-14; Jas 5:1-6; Mk 9:38-43, 45, 47-48

Saints & Special Observances

Sunday: Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time; Catechetical Sunday
Monday: Ss. Andrew Kim Tae-gŏn, Paul Chŏng Ha-sang, and Companions; Sukkot (Jewish harvest festival) begins at sunset
Tuesday: St. Matthew
Wednesday: Autumn begins
Thursday: St. Pius of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio)
Saturday: Blessed Virgin Mary