25th Sunday in Ordinary Time B21
Six days after the 1st prediction of the Passion, Death and Resurrection and this week’s Gospel in which Jesus again talks about what would happen to him, there was a surprising event. Jesus took Peter, James and John up a high mountain and was transfigured before their very eyes! His clothes became dazzling white; Elijah appeared, accompanied by Moses, conversing with Jesus. “Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them; then from the cloud came a voice, ‘This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.’” (Mark 9:7) Suddenly, it was over and only Jesus remained with the three apostles. Coming down from the mountain to join the other nine, Jesus charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone until he was risen from the dead. And they kept the matter to themselves. But they kept wondering what rising the dead meant.
Eventually the twelve left from there with Jesus, making their way through Galilee. Jesus again told them what was in store for him. And again, they didn’t understand and were afraid to question him; perhaps remembering what was said to Peter about a week ago. Instead, they were discussing among themselves who was the greatest. They were more concerned about themselves than Jesus. I imagine it get rather heated since Jesus could hear them arguing. I also imagine Peter, James and John were bursting at the seams to tell their experience on the mountain which would prove, at least to them, that they were the greatest. When Jesus asked them what was all the fuss was about, they kept silent. Jesus uses that occasion to teach them a lesson about another aspect of his understanding what being the Christ is all about: service, even to a young child who had no rights in society and no claims on it. Jesus is teaching them servant leadership. He will demonstrate that type of leadership at the Last Supper when he washed their feet.
The other two readings talk about the opposite kind of leadership which is all about power, glory and ego. In the Wisdom reading, rather than change their behavior the wicked are making plans for doing evil, revilement, torture, and a shameful death because “the just one” because he is obnoxious to them and reproaches them for transgressions of the law and violations of their training. James’ letter states, “Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every foul practice” (James 3:16). They show in wars, conflicts, and those passions that cause dissension within the community of believers. It can happen to us. As a result, we turn companions into competitors, allies into rivals, friends into foes, and for what? To stoke our own sense of worth, importance, greatness?
“But wisdom from above is first of all pure, then peaceable, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without inconstancy or insincerity.” (James 3:17)
Which would you rather have: the wisdom of the world or the wisdom from above?