Today’s Gospel reading in the daily office lectionary reads;
They went on from there and passed through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know it; for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, ‘The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again.’ But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him.
Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, ‘What were you arguing about on the way?’ But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, ‘Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.’ Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, ‘Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.’
John said to him, ‘Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.’ But Jesus said, ‘Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterwards to speak evil of me. Whoever is not against us is for us. For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward. ~ Mark 9:30-41
Jesus finds himself looking into the face of the disciples, wondering if they think he is stupid. he has heard them arguing on the way. He knows that they have been engaged in conversations that would betray the very message that he has been preaching. Now he wants to know – ‘What were you talking about in your whispered tones?’ Knowing full well that Jesus would not be impressed with an argument about who was the greatest, they remain silent. But Jesus would have none of it. He quite rightly calls the truth out into the light. He then takes a child into his arms and makes clear that being the greatest is embodied in being a servant of all. Welcoming a child, welcoming the vulnerable, is welcoming Christ.
This seems too obvious to ask but… we do all understand this right? I mean, we do understand that Jesus has made clear that clear that Kingdom living is embracing sacrifice for others, service of others, vulnerability with one another, humility in service? It’s a very strong overarching message in the preaching of Jesus and in the witness of his life. Yet we still find ourselves in the church engaged in whispered conversations about who is the greatest. We still argue about who gets to do what. We still have a problem acknowledging that a child is in the most fundamental embodies the image of Christ. We still want to know who will be the favourite. We still lack humility. We still seek status. We still forget that our primary call is to service.
I am praying tonight for eyes to see the ways I have become too concerned with status, with whose got it better than me, with envy for what another owns or what another has achieved. I am praying that I might see how I can better welcome Christ by welcoming the vulnerable. I am praying to be a better servant.