Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all. Mark 9:35
God and Father of all,
you have taught us through your Son
that the last shall be first,
and have made a little child the measure of
your kingdom: give us the wisdom from
above, so that we may understand that in
your sight the one who serves is the
greatest of all.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity
of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and
- Proverbs 31:10-31
- Psalm 1
- James 3:1-12
- Mark 9:30-37
- Esther 7:1-6, 9-10, 9:20-22
- Psalm 124
- James 5:12-20
- Mark 9:38-50
A Thought to Ponder
Pentecost 17 – Mark 9:30-37
“If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all . . . “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.”
Different hopes and expectations of the long awaited “age of the Messiah” collide in today’s Gospel.
A sombre Jesus speaks cryptically of what awaits him in Jerusalem, while those closest to him argue about their own greatness and status in the Messiah’s reign (that must have been quite a conversation to elicit the strong reaction it did from Jesus). The disciples, long resigned to their people’s humiliation and subjugation, dream of a kingdom of power and influence in which ambition is exalted; Jesus explains to them (yet again) that the Messiah’s reign will be a kingdom of spirit and conversion in which humble service to others is exalted.
Jesus articulates the great paradox of discipleship: Do you wish to be first? Then become last. Do you seek to attain greatness? Then become small. Do you want to be masters? Then become the servants of those you wish to rule.
To emphasise the point, Jesus picks up a little child and places the child in the midst of these would-be rulers and influence peddlers. A child has no influence in the affairs of society nor offers anything to adults in terms of career advancement or prestige enhancement; just the opposite is true: a child needs everything. To be “great” in the reign of God, Jesus says, one must become the “servant” of the “child,” the poor, the needy, the lost.
For the disciples of Jesus, every child represents the vulnerabilities, fears, and doubts that every one of us experiences in our lives; every child mirrors Jesus’ call to us in baptism to take up his work of reaching out to those overwhelmed by pain, anxiety and hopelessness.
In their simple joy and wonder of the world they are constantly discovering, in their ready acceptance of our love, in their total dependence on us for their nurturing and growth, children are the ideal teachers of the Spirit of humble servanthood and constant thanksgiving that Jesus asks of those who would be his followers.
To put another’s hopes and dreams ahead of one’s own, to bring forth and affirm the gifts of others for no other reason than the common good, to seek reconciliation at all costs is to be the “servant” Christ speaks of in today’s Gospel.
“Child-like faith” is never dissuaded or discouraged, never becomes cynical or jaded, never ceases to be amazed and grateful for the many ways God reveals his presence in our lives. The power of such “simple faith” is its ability to overcome every rationalisation, fear, complication and agenda in order to mirror the selflessness of Christ Jesus.
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Sorry the sermon was not recorded this week
You can read the Pew Sheet here23e84-pentecost-17-b