First Reading: Wisdom 2:12, 17-20
The wicked say: Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us; he sets himself against our doings, reproaches us for transgressions of the law and charges us with violations of our training. Let us see whether his words be true; let us find out what will happen to him. For if the just one be the son of God, God will defend him and deliver him from the hand of his foes. With revilement and torture let us put the just one to the test that we may have proof of his gentleness and try his patience. Let us condemn him to a shameful death; for according to his own words, God will take care of him.
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 54:3-4, 5, 6 AND 8
The Lord upholds my life. O God, by your name save me, and by your might defend my cause. O God, hear my prayer; hearken to the words of my mouth. For the haughty men have risen up against me, the ruthless seek my life; they set not God before their eyes. Behold, God is my helper; the Lord sustains my life. Freely will I offer you sacrifice; I will praise your name, O LORD, for its goodness.
Second Reading: James 3:16—4:3
Beloved: Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every foul practice. But the wisdom from above is first of all pure, then peaceable, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without inconstancy or insincerity. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace for those who cultivate peace. Where do the wars and where do the conflicts among you come from? Is it not from your passions that make war within your members? You covet but do not possess. You kill and envy but you cannot obtain; you fight and wage war. You do not possess because you do not ask. You ask but do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.
Gospel: Mark 9:30-37
Jesus and his disciples left from there and began a journey through Galilee, but he did not wish anyone to know about it. He was teaching his disciples and telling them, “The Son of Man is to be handed over to men and they will kill him, and three days after his death the Son of Man will rise.” But they did not understand the saying, and they were afraid to question him. They came to Capernaum and, once inside the house, he began to ask them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” But they remained silent. They had been discussing among themselves on the way who was the greatest. Then he sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.” Taking a child, he placed it in the their midst, and putting his arms around it, he said to them, “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me.”
I’m a former teacher, so I know well the glazed look of a pre-teen when they are trying to like act they understand what I’m saying, but really have no clue what I’m talking about.
Spiritually, I get that glazed look from time to time. I’ll read a passage of Scripture, or a quote from a saint, or a teaching of the Church and not fully understand what it’s saying to me. Most of the time, I chalk it up as “over my head,” move on, and not think about it again.
But how much am I missing out when I do that? How much richness, understanding, and most importantly, closeness to Jesus am I skipping over because I don’t have the energy, courage, or passion to ask?
“You do not possess because you do not ask,” the Second Reading tells us. We see this lived out in the Gospel: “But they did not understand the saying, and they were afraid to question him.” Jesus was telling His Apostles a major truth about His death and Resurrection. It was so clear that He could have said “spoiler alert” beforehand.
Yet they didn’t get it. And who can blame them? No one had ever risen from the dead before. But here’s the thing: they didn’t ask for clarification. They didn’t ask to better understand. They stood there like my tweens, with glazed eyes of confusion, too stuck in their fear to admit that something didn’t make sense to them.
When something about our faith doesn’t make sense to us, do we ask questions, or simply move on in ignorance?
Let’s not be afraid to ask, even the tough, awkward, uncomfortable questions. Even the “stupid” questions. If we don’t know, we can’t grow in the knowledge and love of the Lord in that area. Ask your parish priest, talk to a trusted Catholic mentor, post in our regional Facebook groups. If we don’t ask, we can’t receive the understanding. Let’s be brave, let’s be like curious little children, and ask our Father for guidance.
Ask and seek answers. Pray within your hearts first, and then come on over and talk with your sisters.
Olivia Spears is a middle school religion teacher turned SAHM who is married to her high school best friend. You can find out more about her here.