To read the texts click on the texts: Job 1:6-22; Lk9:46-50
This scene shows the disciples debating
among themselves as to which of them was the greatest. The fact that this
episode occurs immediately after Jesus has predicted his passion, death and
resurrection for the second time, shows that the disciples have not understood
the meaning of Jesus’ predictions. In his response to their argument, Jesus puts
a child by his side as an example of what it means to be the greatest. The one
who like a child acknowledges total dependence on God, the one who does not
have any visible means of support, is the one who is greatest.
The second scene in this section is the
last one before Jesus turns towards Jerusalem, and also shows the disciples of
Jesus in a poor light. This is the only scene in which the apostle John appears
alone in the Synoptic Gospels. Here he acts as the spokesman for the group. The
reason why they try to stop the unnamed exorcist is because he does not belong
to the “inner circle”. The irony is that they as disciples were not able
earlier to cast out a demon (9,40), and now someone who is not even part of
their group is able to do so. Jesus’ response calls for openness and tolerance.
Jesus also seems to say that one’s actions will determine who belongs and does
not belong to the kingdom.
Even two thousand years after Jesus, we
do not seem to have understood the meaning of what it takes to belong to the
kingdom. We keep associating greatness with possessing things or having
authority to dominate. Authority for anyone who belongs to the kingdom can only
be translated as service.
Though the Gospels do seem to indicate
that Jesus came primarily for the Jews, his was an inclusive approach. He
excluded no one. All who were open to receive his radical message were welcome
to be part of his community. We need to be constantly aware of this especially
when we make such clear distinctions between those of other faiths and
ourselves. They are also called in their own way.