Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Tuesday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time

(James 4:1-10; Mark 9:30-37)

The inelegant name “Fat Tuesday” (Mardi Gras) is derived from the ancient custom of households consuming all remaining fatty foods before Lent begins. During the Middle Ages Lent was a time of penance and discipline when Christians did not eat meat or desserts made with animal fat.  Over the ages Mardi Gras has undergone corruption. Today it often has the spirit of orgy rather than of dutiful, albeit cheery, preparation for a devout fast.

The gospel today indicates a similar distortion of values. Jesus has confided in his disciples that the Son of Man will suffer horribly before he experiences glory. They, however, refuse to probe what this might mean.  Rather they prefer to dwell on fatuous concerns of the self. James and John beg the seats of honor in the kingdom.  Their obtuseness would be as comical as a Three Stooges routine were Jesus not speaking of himself as the one to undergo the ordeal.

If we wish, we might eat a second sausage or drink a glass of wine today. But let us do so with an eye on tomorrow. During Lent we want to take stock of our sins and check our sinful actions. We should strive to understand the cost of our continual concern with self.  It has impeded both our appreciation for and our cooperation in Jesus’ work of redemption.