We all have stories from our childhood that can be embarrassing.
One of my personal “favorites” was The Great Worcestershire Sauce Search. I was about five years old when my Mom sent me to our next-door neighbor’s house to borrow some “W” sauce for a recipe. Being shy and insecure I slowly ventured out the front door. Instead of walking up the slope to the Saxon’s front door, I made a right turn between the houses. I knew Mr. Saxon was home and I was not going to take the chance that he might come to the door. He really scared me! I wrestled with my fears and doubts between the houses for a few minutes. Then I went back to my Mom and told her that they didn’t have any “W” sauce.
After a quick phone call my Mom laughingly sent me out again to meet Mrs. Saxon at their front door. I was mortified that my brilliant “They don’t have any!” rouse didn’t work.
The disciples struggle with their own fears and insecurities in this Sunday’s Gospel.
Jesus and his disciples left from there and began a journey through Galilee, but he did not wish anyone to know about it. He was teaching his disciples and telling them, “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.” But they did not understand the saying, and they were afraid to question him.
They came to Capernaum and, once inside the house, he began to ask them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” But they remained silent. They had been discussing among themselves on the way who was the greatest. Then he sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.” Taking a child, he placed it in the their midst, and putting his arms around it, he said to them, “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me.” Mark 9:30-37
Why do you think the disciples were “afraid” to question Jesus? We aren’t exactly sure but Jesus’ words about the Son of Man’s death must have unsettled them. Next, the disciples’ conversation points to deeper insecurities. Their desire to be the greatest suggests insecurity and misaligned priorities. In their embarrassment, the disciples are silent at Jesus’ revelation about their conversation. And if that wasn’t bad enough Jesus drives His point home as He elevates service to a child above all else. Talk about mortifying!!!
Why do we as human beings so frequently respond out of our weaknesses? Is it because we might be afraid of that big scary guy coming to the door? I believe, in part, it is. Without realizing it we can make choices out of fear or misguided priorities. This is most damaging as we choose ourselves over service to others. Jesus clearly defines our priorities – receiving others, especially the smallest. In so doing we also experience that big scary guy who isn’t so scary after all.