Reflection on Mark 9.30-37

But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him.

Since being of school-age myself, I have seen many, many changes in the world of education. Every day used to start with an assembly which was largely Christian in nature, although every now and then a daring young member of staff would deliver an assembly that was not rooted in the bible! Every lesson consisted of classes sitting in rows listening to teachers and making notes. The subjects that were taught, and the way in which they were taught, conformed to some sort of curriculum, but nothing like the regimented list of approved and examined topics that exist today. The knock-on of this style of education was seen in the life of the Church. Children were expected to sit and be quiet, even if they did not understand what was being said, and they certainly would have been afraid to ask for clarification. 

Today, things are very different. Today, children are encouraged to ask questions and to explore but, sadly, not too often in church!!! Too often I hear members of ageing congregations tut and moan when children dare to make any sort of noise during church services. Too often I hear parents being asked to keep their children still and quiet. Too often those children and their parents are not seen in church again!

In today’s reading we see the disciples in the role of those questioning children. Jesus is slowly revealing the truth of what lies ahead, that he will be betrayed and killed, and that he will rise again. We should not be surprised that they are confused … just like those young children and their parents … and, if the truth be told, just like most of those who tut and moan as their preferred solemn silence is disturbed by healthy enthusiasm and curiosity!! We do not know how much of Jesus’ message was taken in by each of the disciples, but it is likely that each of them had their own interpretation of Jesus’ strange words. 

We are often confused by the world in which we live. We usually try to create order out of our confusion by using our own limited intellectual and practical skills. In relying on our own resources we usually end up in a worse place, rather than in the place of hope and joy that was our aspiration.

Today we are being urged to take all our confusion, all the chaos of our daily lives to Jesus and to ask for his help. There should never be fear in our hearts when we go to him in prayer. Any sense of fear is rooted in our own inadequacies and not in how Jesus wants to interact with us. 

Let us pray that our journey through Lent might be marked by a deepening of our relationship with Jesus through the systematic reading of scripture, through a routine of prayer, and through a living out of the Good News we have received. Let us pray that in this way we might prepare for what is to come during the events of Holy Week, and then the indescribable joy of the resurrection.