Thursday, February 27, 2014

Thursday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time

(James 5:16; Mark 9:41-50)

Pope Francis seems to make headlines every day.  This past weekend in his meeting with the cardinals of the Church he reminded the elite group that their purpose is to serve not to set up court.  They, like all of Christ's disciples, are called to poverty, regardless of the popular conception that they are "princes of the Church."  In today's gospel Jesus reviews the rewards and the risks of being his disciple.

A noted Catholic biblical theologian has shown how the call to discipleship does not apply to all of Jesus' followers, at least in the same manner.  In the gospels Jesus calls his disciples specifically.  They are not to dally but to respond immediately.  They must face the rough road ahead without looking back.  In short, the physical contours of a disciple’s life are formidable.  But not everything on the agenda will challenge their mettle. In today's passage Jesus assures his disciples that they might expect a cup of water from some good people. At the same time, however, he also warns them to take special care not to sin or give scandal.  He calls their desire to follow him salt flavoring fish.  It will appeal to others.  But let it wane and, like salt losing acridity, they could serve only the most menial of purposes.

Are we Jesus' hard-core disciples?  It is not a matter of being a priest or religious but of our relationship to the Lord.  If we live for him, striving both to know him better and to follow his commands, we belong to the chosen group.  If we live more for ourselves, then we should pray for help to change our ways.