“They went on from there and passed through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know it; for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again.” But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him.” Mark 8:30-3
Sometimes the questions we are most afraid to ask are the ones we already know the answer to. In last Sunday’s gospel reading, Jesus rebuked Peter for rejecting any notion of a rejected Messiah. This Sunday, the disciples, recently chastened by Peter’s example, are too afraid to ask Jesus about his second “passion prediction.” The reality of Jesus’ mission is sinking into their skin. They were not to be the entourage to the Glorious Galilean prophet. They were called to follow a Messiah marked for death, likely spelling their own doom in the process. As if to keep such fates at bay, they began to argue among themselves about which of them is the greatest.
The disciples’ confusion led to fear which led to arguments and division. Sound like a familiar pattern? Jesus’ response to their division was to place a child among them and teach them that to welcome a child is to welcome also him. We live in confusing times. Fear leads to arguments and division. Perhaps we should spend more time asking, “where are the children and what is best for them right now?” Of course, were our society to do so, we just might have to face our own childlike fears and face up to our own childish behaviors. Lord, have mercy!