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September 20, 1991     The Message
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September 20, 1991 The Message m for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana Commentary 5  Mass Readings Gospel Commentary for Sunday, Sept. 22, 1991, Twenty-fifth Suhday of Ordinary Time, Cycle B: Mark 9:30-37 The first Passion prediction was the subject of last Sunday's gospel. Not only did Jesus predict his own suffering; but also that of people who fol- low him. There were some drastic statements about the necessity of carrying the cross after Jesus even to the point of giving one's life for him and for the gospel. This was a difficult pill to swallow and Mark is aware of it. He next adds the transfig- uration of Jesus to show what awaits those who follow Jesus on the path of the cross. That path leads to glory. Mark continues to show how the disciples mis- understand Jesus. He illustrates the division be- tween Jesus' way and their way. They try to work a miracle and can't do it. They have to (:all on Jesus to finish the task. The lesson: those who can- not accept the way of the cross do not have the faith to work miracles, hnmediately after this fail- ure Mark adds the second Passion prediction. And again the disciples misunderstand. T!m response to the first prediction, last Sun- day s gospel, was Peter's rebuke of Jesus, then Jesus' vehement denunciation of Peter's rebuke. Now all the disciples respond to the passion pre- diction. They must have had a teeling that some- thing was going to happen so they argue about who is the greatest among them. It is agreed by .. Comnlentators that Mark goes out of his way to A misunderstood prediction: Who is to be number one? present the immediate disciples of Jesus as a bunch of dummies. In a future column, the twenty-ninth Sunday, we will see a similar reac- tion to the third Passion prediction. We can hardly accept that those close to Jesus never learned anything during their time with Jesus. Matthew and Luke don't accept this ei- ther. They frequently change Mark's derision of the disciples, sometimes directly contradicting the Gospel of Mark. It is not off the wall to con- clude that Mark, writing forty years after the death of Jesus, was not very concerned with giv- ing an historical portrait of the disciples. Last week we saw how Peter was used by Mark as model of faith when he professed his faith in Jesus as Messiah. He was also used as model for those who did not understand that the path to glory lay through the cross. The same must be sakt of the reaction to the second Pas- sion prediction. The discussion or argument about who was number one among them points to Mark's own Christian community. May we see here the beginning of clerical envy, territorial disputes, jurisdictional disputes? May we see here some community leaders assuming rank and titles and perks of office? Probably so. Mark will later denounce these very struggles in his Church when he denounces the scribes. How does Mark respond to these struggles within his Church? He refers to an episode in the life of Jesus. He writes that Jesus called the Twelve to himself and told them: "If anyone wishes to be first among you that person must be last of all and the servant of all." That cuts to the core of the problem. Instead of striving for rank, position, honor, they ought to be doing the work of the ministry. Mark has a unique way of stating what the real concerns of the leaders of his Christian commu- nity should be. He writes that Jesus picked up a child, embraced it and said to his disciples: "Whoever receives one such chiId in my name receives me. And whoever receives me, receives him who sent me." Meaning: the child repre- sents those who really need ministry, the sick, the poor, the elderly, the children, all those who cannot help themselves. We may draw two conclusions. First we see the genius of Mark who can arrange various episodes in the life of Jesus to answer current problems in his C, hurch. We must always re- member that Mark is NOT writing a biography of Jesus. Instead he has collected and arranged many traditions about Jesus to solve the prob- lems of his own day. Secondly, we see the power of the gospel. The message Mark gave his Church by this short episode of today's gospel is just as powerful as it was in the first century. The warn- ing is still there: "If anyone wants to be first, that person must be last of all and the servant of all." Other readings Jbr Sunday, Sept. 22: Wisdom 2:12, 17-20: James 3:16-4:3. Archbishop O'Meara steps down from CRS ARCHBISHOP O'MEARA American National Bank Bicknell - Sandborn Vincennes Drive-in Facilities - Member F.D.I.C. A Full Service Bank" BALTIMORE (CNS) -- Bishop James A. Griffin of Columbus, Ohio, has been ap- pointed the new president and board chairman of Catholic Relief Services, the U.S. bishops' overseas relief and development agency. The appointment was an- nounced by Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk of Cincin- nati, U.S. bishops' president, and released by CRS in Balti- more. Bishop Griffin suc- ceeds Archbishop Edward T. O'Meara of Indianapolis, who resigned for health reasons. Archbishop O'Meara, 70, had served on the CRS board for 12 years, the last four as FOR COMPLETE ELECTRICAL SERVICE FISCHER ELECTRIC INC. RT. 1 ST. ANTHONY "Funeral Pre-Planning Since 1940" Miller & Miller 424-9274 AUTO TOPS, SEAT COVERS, BOAT COVERS " STEREO SALES & INSTALLATIONS 254-3943 HWY 50 EAST, BEHIND UPS CENTER EUGENE WELP, OWNER chairman. Bishop Griffin, 57, has served on CRS' board for six years, the last four as trea- surer. Archbishop Pilarczyk in a statement praised Archbishop O'Meara's "wise and sensi- tive leadership" and his "self- less devotion to the church and to the poor." He issued "prayers for a speedy recovery" for Arch- bishop O'Meara, who was re- cently diagnosed with pul- monary fibrosis, a lung condition causing his lung capacity to be diminished by half. Bishop Griffin would pro- vide "a strong and steady ele- ment of continuity at this time of t'ransition," Arch- bishop Pilarczyk said. He said Bishop Griffin had frequently visited CRS pro- grams overseas. "We will thus benefit by this experi- ence and by his demonstrated dedication to the church's mission and to those in need as expressed through CRS," Archbishop Pilarczyk said. Bishops joyful at end of cold war but see 'new threats to peace' WASHINGTON (CNS)- The U.S. bishops have ex- pressed joy that "we are no longer prisoners of a Cold War" but warned against such "new threats to world peace" as the civil war in Yu- goslavia. In a statement made public Sept. 16, the 50-member U.S. Catholic Conference Admin- istrative Board discussed re- cent developments in the So- viet Union and the conflict that has emerged in Yu- goslavia since the Croatian re- public declared its indepen- dence in June. "We rejoice that we are no longer prisoners of a Cold War that has so aggravated the world's problems and di- verted massive resources to the weapons of war rather than the construction of a sta- ble peace, rooted in justice," the bishops said. "The violence in Yu- goslavia, however, shows that, while the crisis of the Cold War is over, new threats to world peace are emerging," they added. The Administrative Board, which met in Washington Sept. 10-12, acts for the full U.S. bishops' conference be- tween general meetings. The statement cited four "moral and spiritual inspira- tions" behind the recent events in the Soviet Union "a respect for human dignity, a sense of solidarity, a con- cern for non-violence and the power of religious beliefs." "The people of the United States can support these moral and spiritual forces by intensifying and expanding private and governmental ef- forts to assist these nations in ways appropriate to this ex- traordinary moment," the bishops said. They called for a "reorder- ing of priorities" to affect "a substantial reduction in mili- tary spending commensurate with the removal of the threat it was intended to contain." On the situation in Yu- goslavia, the bishops said they supported a call from Cardinal Franjo Kuharic of Zagreb and Serbian Orthodox Patriarch Pavle "urging their political leaders and people to embark on a path of peace, reconciliation and truth as the only way to avoid the abyss of war." "In accord with their ap- peal, we join fellow Chris- tians in praying that mutual dialogue and reason will pre- vail over hatred and violence and that, with the support of the international community, political leaders in Yu- goslavia will reject actions and policies that inflame an- cient tensions, and instead will redouble efforts to con- struct a new and more just re- lationship among their di- verse peoples," the statement added. The Administrative Board urged U.S. Catholics  "es- pecially those with ethnic, national and religious ties to the region"  to assist the victims of the war and to pray for resolution of the conflict. Assistance should also go all the newly emerging na- tions of Central and Eastern Europe, the bishops said.