Sir 2:1-11; Ps 37:3-4,18-19, 27-28, 39-40; Mk 9:30-28: If we listen with the ear of our heart, we will learn the ways of the LORD hidden in the words of the psalms and revealed in the mystery of the cross of Christ. All who have room in their heart for the LORD will dwell in the land and be fed in security. We will be fed with the wisdom from on high and this wisdom is made Flesh and this word is made Bread for us. This is the delight of all who are wholehearted. These are never put to shame because the LORD helps them. His help delivers them from all their enemies. The LORD saves them because they take refuge in him. The LORD God Almighty saves, delivers, helps all who are not afraid of God, but live in the fear of the LORD. These are the ones who may grow older in the eyes of the world, but in truth they are becoming younger in the LORD. Jesus Ben Sirach teaches those who long for wisdom that the LORD is compassionate and merciful. Such is the good news we all long to hear, even if it is hidden in the mystery of the cross, in the mystery of the Crucified and Risen Lord Jesus.
Anyone who serves the LORD must be ready for the cross. Any and all adversity will come to those who are sincere of heart and strive to be steadfast. This wisdom from the book of Sirach is the same wisdom the Lord Jesus is teaching those who seek to follow him in today’s gospel. When we seek to serve we seek to wait on God with patience. We wait like the gold and silver that is purified by fire in the crucible of humiliation. This crucible is unavoidable; it is the only place to wait and to learn patience. In the LORD’s time, in the appropriate time, at just the right moment our hearts will be enlightened. All the saints of the old and new testaments give testimony that trust in the LORD is never disappointed. We too, will learn from patience, that perseverance alone will keep us from being forsaken. For a time we may feel nothing because we are in the dark night of the spirit. We will feel forsaken, and yet we are hidden in the mystery of the cross. We will feel lost and yet find the compassion and mercy for which we have longed. Indeed, only in the time of trouble and not before, when we are truly prepared and ready to receive abundance of mercy and the forgiveness of our sins. Such is the joy of all whom the LORD protects. Such is the joy of all those who seek the LORD in truth—even if that truth may be hidden in the shadow of the cross—which is our only light.
The Lord Jesus and his disciples leave on a journey through Galilee in Saint Mark’s gospel, but this is a secret journey because the Lord wanted to teach his disciples about the mystery of the cross, which is the mystery of suffering, a mystery we continue to learn each and every day. The Lord Jesus predicts his passion: “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.” The disciples did not understand, and they were afraid to question him. We still don’t understand such self-sacrifice, and still we are afraid that following him on this journey that may involve our own self-sacrifice, or even our own total self-sacrifice. As contemporary disciples we waste so much time discussing among ourselves the one who is the greatest. Such discussions are useless because they are self-centered. They reveal that we still buy into the world’s way of measuring greatness. Greatness does not set up a prideful struggle among disciples indeed the only competition we are allowed to have is to strive to outdo one another in self-sacrificial service. Not counting the cost, and not looking for the reward of our generosity. If we have such a humble self-awareness we will be like a child who has received everything, from the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have received the Lord Jesus; we have received the Holy Spirit; and we received the One who sent Him and the Holy Spirit. In the midst of that mystery we discover the mystery of our own identity—we are children who absolutely depend upon God to enter into the mystery of the Cross and share in the glory of being lifted up–on the cross, in the resurrection, and at the ascension. Such is the goal of our life.