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Gospel Reflections Download newsletter   [Mark 9:30-37]

Mark gives us three formal prophecies of the Passion, of which this is the second. He uses the triple number frequently to stress the importance and sureness of an event. So Peter denies Jesus three times, and Pilate three times asserts Jesus’ innocence. Jesus is shown to be fully aware of the fate that awaits him: he goes into it with his eyes open, and accepts his Father’s will; he is, moreover, aware that his Father will not desert him, but will vindicate him by the Resurrection. Again the disciples fail to understand the message: while Jesus had been giving them the message of triumph only through suffering and humiliation, they had been thinking about who would be the greatest. So Jesus sets before them a child as the model. In what way is a child a model? Like adults, children can be selfish and they can be devious and scheming from an early age. However, children are probably more aware than adults that they cannot totally control a situation and trustingly accept that they are dependent on others. The final words that Jesus speaks in today’s Gospel suggests that it is this quality of dependence that Jesus proposes: like little children we should be dependent on the will of the Father. Why does Jesus put forward a child as a role model for us?