Year B 25th Sunday: Mark 9:30-37

09:30 After leaving that place they made their way through Galilee;
and he did not want anyone to know,
09:31 because he was instructing his disciples; he was telling them,
'The Son of man will be delivered into the power of men; they will put him to death;
and three days after he has been put to death he will rise again.'
09:32 But they did not understand what he said and were afraid to ask him.
09:33 They came to Capernaum, and when he got into the house he asked them,
'What were you arguing about on the road?'
09:34 They said nothing, because on the road they had been arguing
which of them was the greatest.
09:35 So he sat down, called the Twelve to him and said,
'If anyone wants to be first, he must make himself last of all and servant of all.'
09:36 He then took a little child whom he set among them and embraced,
and he said to them,
09:37 'Anyone who welcomes a little child such as this in my name, welcomes me;
and anyone who welcomes me, welcomes not me but the one who sent me.'


Mark tells us that Jesus announced his passion, death and resurrection three times. Last week we heard the first time. Today we hear the second time. The third time is to be read in 10:32-34. They are 'on the way' (vs.33). The way will bring them to Jerusalem where all the things Jesus prophesies will become true. Again he calls himself 'son of the human'. That refers to the vision of Daniel (07:13-14) where a son of the human will receive kingship and authority from the hands of God himself. Paradoxically, Jesus combines this vision with the prophecies of the Suffering Servant.


Mark notes that the disciples didn't 'know' what Jesus was talking about. The word 'knowing' means that the crux of Jesus' message had not penetrated into the deep of their hearts. For I am afraid that the disciples had indeed understood that there would be a time when the human Jesus would not be in their midst anymore. And then the question arose which of them would be the greatest...!

This is Jesus’ opportunity to teach them about his spirituality. Who wants to be the greatest must be ready to be the least and the last one; the servant. He takes a child to illustrate his teaching. He will repeat that in 10:13-16, for this lesson hardly penetrates into the hearts of his disciples at all. Only when we will be like a child (in Greek: 'paidion') shall we enter God's kingship.

In the passion story this will become true for Jesus himself. Let us pay attention to the carefully chosen words of Mark. Soldiers (15:20) will mock Jesus by making him a ridiculous king. The Greek word for 'mocking' is 'em-paizoo': in that word we hear the word 'paidion', 'little child'. 'Em-paizzoo' means 'humiliating him as a little child'! A little bit further Jesus will be crucified. Above his head there is a sign: 'King of the Jews' (15:26). Again he is 'mocked' (vs. 31: em-paizzoo), now by the High Priests: mocked as a king (15:32)! Being made into a little child ('em-paizzoo') Jesus can enter his kingship!

Picture Meditation

The picture is taken from the sketchbook of Peter Clare. The centre is composed as a colourful bubble. We see Jesus cherishing the children. I look at the disciples around him and I try to find out what they are feeling and thinking.

In the dark coloured corners of the drawing we see the actuality. High placed persons (a cardinal top right) is gazing at small and everyday people. Jesus' words are as valid now as they were in his days.

Am I somewhere in this picture? I can identify myself with one of the adults. But what happens to me, when I ask myself if there is still a little child to be cherished somewhere in me...?

by Fr Dries van den Akker SJ