Listening to the first reading we from the Book of Wisdom we were given an insight into the situation of the Jews who found themselves living outside the Holy Land. They were in the same country like their ancestors at the time of Moses. They lived in Alexandria, an important and wealthy Egyptian port city. It was the time close to the coming of Jesus Christ. However it was also a situation which was presenting challenges to remaining faithful to God, as those who wanted to be faithful were under pressure to give up their beliefs. In fact, as today’s First Reading tells us that some Jews drifted away from living their faith and with their pagan collaborators were mobbing those who chose to love God and to live according to God’s Word. ‘Let us lie in wait for the virtuous man… Let us test him with cruelty and with torture… Let us condemn him to a shameful death.’ Despite being targets of mobbing the believers didn’t only recorded the difficulties they faced to remain God’s followers but they voiced a prophesy about the virtuous man, which brought them close to the New Testament not only chronologically but theologically as well. When St Paul and St John were searching for expressions to present the profoundness of Jesus Christ they turned to the Book of Wisdom.
My Dear Sisters and Brothers! The sufferings of the virtuous man, as described by the author of the Book of Wisdom, this Sunday are paralleled by Jesus’ own prediction of his suffering and death. It is the second time he talked about the approaching time of betrayal, torture, death and his resurrection. Jesus’ words on his approaching suffering and death must have been striking as his disciples overlooked his words on resurrection. When we listen to Mark’s account we get a sense that the disciples still hoped they belonged to a new powerful party following Jesus. It was so strong in them that after some time of silence following Jesus’ announcement of his approaching death they argued about their own significance in the group gathered around Jesus.
If the Book of Wisdom was in close proximity to the New Testament the events in today’s Gospel were the final moments before the Holy Week.
The disciples misunderstood the power of Jesus’ death and because of that they overlooked that Jesus’ death was to pave the way for his resurrection. The misunderstanding of the Lord’s death is our problem too, though it is from a different perspective. We know that we cannot change the past in which Jesus’ was captured, thrown into dungeon, scourged, crowned with thorns, burdened with the cross and nailed to it. However we need to ask ourselves: Do I think and talk about our Lord’s death on the cross always in connection to his resurrection? The whole spectrum of very physical suffering cannot be separated from the glory of his resurrection. At the same time the glory of his resurrection will never fully shine without the darkness of Good Friday. The value of the both events is God’s love for us.
As we pause in silence now in reaction to Jesus’ words about his death and resurrection it is not a contention of his death’s necessity or his resurrection’s reality but as an expression of our awe that ‘we are precious in God’s sight, and honoured and because he loves us.’
My Dear fellow believers. The disciples in the Gospel wanted to be important among others. Jesus however gave a different spin to their appreciation of being important. It is the importance of a child in the sight of its mother and father. It is the importance which is not earned but established by the parent’s love for their child.
This is our importance, this is our value.