February 21, 2012
Tuesday of the Seventh
Week in Ordinary Time
Father Edward Hopkins, LC
Listen to podcast version here.
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
he 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 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."
Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus,
I believe in you, present and interested in my life.
I believe you await my prayer to guide my heart,
my visits to the Eucharist to strengthen my will, and
my challenges to help my surrender. I trust you will
give your life to me in exchange for my self-denial.
I love you and want to love you more by
embracing and living out your will. Mother Mary, teach me
to say with you, “Let it be done unto me.”
Petition: “Speak Lord,
your servant is listening”
1. Apostolic Training: This was one journey Jesus chose
to do in secret. Why? Because he wanted to dedicate
all his attention and efforts to teaching his apostles the
deepest and most important secret of his life: He must
die! All that they had lived so far was thus
incomplete, merely a preparation for the final act of his
mission: the consummation of his love, his total immolation on
the cross. Would they understand the need for the seed
to die before rising to new life? How hard it
would be for them to listen! He was their Lord,
the powerful, Messianic king coming to free them and establish
his kingdom of truth and love. They still imagined scenarios
of new victories, cures, defeat of demons, the silencing of
their opposition…. How far their dreams were from Jesus’ message!
We too have our own desires and needs. Can we
detach ourselves from these dreams long enough to understand in
prayer his will and his plan of salvation for us?
Learners: Not only did they “not understand the saying,” but
“they were afraid to question him.” In other words, they
did not want to know. How often our communication problem
is not something intellectual, but rather something of the will!
Our desire is more to “get our way,” “make our
point” or “affirm ourselves.” Learning Christ’s way requires that we
in some way unlearn our own ways. “He must increase,
but I must decrease” (John 3:30). This explains why no
one can be neutral before Christ; he challenges us to
change our life. Jesus occasioned the fierce opposition of those
who would ultimately put him to death. How open am
I to his challenges? Do I listen in prayer in
order to respond with a docile but firm “Amen”?
3. The Hardest Lesson:
Like little boys caught in the act, the apostles don’t
dare admit that they have been arguing about who among
them is greatest. Not only do they fail “to listen”
to Jesus; to the contrary, they are busy asserting their
will. What would it take to teach them this most
difficult but vital truth? So Jesus, with a father’s love,
holds a child before them and begins the lesson anew.
This small child is the greatest! To be last, to
serve, to give your life makes you great, since this
is how God comes to us. Only the sight of
Jesus crucified would burn this lesson more deeply on their
hearts. Am I learning this lesson of sacrificial love to
become the greatest I can become?
Conversation with Christ: Dear Lord, open
my heart to listen to your will for me. Free
me from my own self-love, ideas and dreams. Teach me
to die to myself as I enter into prayer and
as I enter into work. Help me to work, pray
and live so that you and your love can rise
up in my life in place of the poverty of
my own qualities and efforts.
Resolution: I will listen well before trying to offer my
own thoughts or desires in prayer and in interacting with
family and others, so better to hear the Lord.