THURSDAY, MARCH 17TH
A TIME OF SHARED STRUGGLE
Today we will learn of another struggle Jesus had, a frustration that we often share and understand. Jesus sits quietly for a moment, smiling knowingly to himself, and then begins…
While everyone was amazed at all that I was doing, I said to my disciples, “Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into human hands.” But they did not understand this saying; its meaning was concealed from them, so that they could not perceive it. And they were afraid to ask me about this saying.
An argument arose among them as to which one of them was the greatest. But I, aware of their inner thoughts, put a little child by my side and said to them, “Whoever welcomes this child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me; for the least among all of you is the greatest.” (Luke 9:43b-48, NRSV, revised*)
Think about his words for a few moments. When have you felt misunderstood, or discounted, or even ignored? Have you ever been frustrated as you tried to warn, enlighten, or advise someone, only to be disregarded? Now think about yourself… have there been times when you missed the point, or misunderstood someone? Have you ever thought to yourself, this doesn’t apply to me, because I am smarter, wiser, more mature, more cautious…? How do you sense your mentor teaching you today?
Here the disciples seem to miss what Jesus is trying to tell them about his future betrayal; instead, their excitement about his successes led them to their own visions of grandeur. They were busy focusing on their own pursuits, their quest for greatness, their desire to be part of his success, instead of listening to his words of warning. The disciples were too distracted and – as Jesus mentions – too afraid to consider the truth of what he was saying.
Today I sadly think of the many stories of people who, on their death beds, implored their loved ones to wear masks or be vaccinated. They deeply regretted that they did not take the recommended precautions or listen to medical advice. Perhaps they believed that they were strong enough or young enough to endure the virus. I remember my own frustration with friends who disregarded or doubted the recommendations, and our sadness of losing some of them.
But I am also aware of those times when I have discounted or ignored some good advice. Recently my sister suggested that I back my car a little farther out from her driveway before turning onto the road. I was certain that I had plenty of room, that my car was smaller than she realized, and that she didn’t know how sharply I could turn. I knew what I was doing!
And I promptly drove onto her lawn. (Sorry, Janet!)
Jesus’s example of becoming like a small child is especially meaningful for me today. Do I trust Jesus with a childlike trust, listening not only for good news but also for correction? Do I trust that his words of caution are like a loving parent for his child – or do I mistakenly assume that I know better? Does my pride keep me from being willing to become the least?
How blessed we are to be children of God. We are beloved, we are embraced, we are forgiven, in all of those times when we miss the point. Jesus continued to journey with the disciples, continued to repeat his warnings and his lessons, and continued to love, instruct, and serve them. This mentor will continue to do the same for us, perfecting and correcting us, while generously and unfailingly loving us all the way.
*The name of Jesus and his pronouns have been adapted by Karen into first-person.