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Spirituality of the Readings
Twenty-Fifth Sunday
of Ordinary Time
September 23, 2018
John Foley, SJ
Take Care of the Little Ones

The First Reading is dark and very serious, and it is followed by an argument (Gospel).

The dark and serious part gives us a rare, inside-view of the way in which scheming minds work (as if we needed one more example today). The wicked say, look at this “just one” He thinks he is so wonderful. He accuses us of breaking the law. Well, let’s take his high opinion of himself and give it one of our little “tests.” Let us see what revilement and torture and a slow death will do to someone supposedly so patient and gentle.

Analysis:

Mockery: “Fine. If he is so wonderful, if he has God on his side, surely he will pass our ‘test.’ It is just an ‘interesting experiment’.”

Translation:
He’s not on our side, get rid of him.

Cruelty: “He thinks he is so holy. Ok, torture, revilement and shameful death are simply reasonable research. Let us see how he will react.”

Translation:
Holiness is all a sham,
a way for people to get what they want.
Well, we want him gone.

Self-deception: We do not need all this God stuff. We base our lives in what is real. (Check out the cable channels and the internet if you want to see the irrelevance of God.)

Translation:
We are more important than God,
and than this Jesus H. Christ.
Self-interest always wins.

This last is quite devastating because no human being can truly win unless God has the first place in life, unless we judge everything else in relation to this love. “Everything”—even wealth, even power, even pride.

When children say the words “I love you,” they mean it to the full extent of their little hearts.
After that comes the Gospel. If you have read these reflections for the last two weeks you know that Jesus has been shocking the disciples by showing them that he himself is the “just one” from the First Reading. Obviously, “God will take care of him,” as the First Reading implies.

But Jesus says that the Son of God will be condemned to shaming torture and will be killed, as the First Reading states explicitly. It will look exactly as if God does not care and will not intervene.

Then, out of Jesus’ earshot, the disciples are having a long argument about which of them will be remembered as the greatest! It seems like a pantomime of the selfishness portrayed in the First Reading! Just after Jesus had told them the most intimate fact of his life—that he must suffer—they start fighting for the best toys, like children.

Jesus responds by actually bringing a real child before them.

When children are at their best they do in fact love their mom and dad. But they are helpless in so many things, and that is why they are grabby, thinking they can survive that way.

But when they say the words “I love you,” they mean it to the full extent of their little hearts.

Jesus says, that is what I am going to do. I am going to say “I love you,” to my Father. I will do this by giving over everything that I am, because I love God above all of it.

And I love the world, everything that is in it.

And I love you, with the fullness and warmth and generosity of God’s everlasting love.

Fr. John Foley, SJ, is a composer and scholar at Saint Louis University.
Art by Martin (Steve) Erspamer, OSB
from Religious Clip Art for the Liturgical Year (A, B, and C). This art may be reproduced only by parishes who purchase the collection in book or CD-ROM form. For more information go http://www.ltp.org