The second half of the Gospel of Mark is dominated by the journey towards Jerusalem, the place of the death and resurrection of Jesus. Since this gospel is comparatively short, the tension of this journey is more evident than in the other gospels, as Jesus draws his reluctant and confused disciples to face the mystery of his cross.
For the second time Jesus announces his coming death. He will be handed over and put to death. Three days after he will rise again. While Peter had reacted strongly to similar words of Jesus in the previous chapter, here there is simply bewilderment.
The following verses underline that the disciples are not yet ready to face up to what Jesus has said. Their preoccupation is still with status and their relative positions in Jesus’ company. Mark does not hesitate to present the disciples as having much to learn, both about the conditions for following Jesus and about the prospect of his martyrdom.
Jesus’ answer is to call them to accept the position of the least, and he illustrates this by placing a child before them.
Our first reading, from the Book of Wisdom, speaks of the plots of the godless against the virtuous man. It is not surprising that Christians used such texts to reflect on what happened to Jesus. So should we.
How difficult is it to accept a crucified Messiah?
Do I, like the disciples, seek to avoid awkward truths which are presented to me?
We pray for those who face persecution and violence because of their beliefs.
We pray for the gift of true humility and appropriate ambition.