It seems that all is getting back to normal… the last two weeks have been a pleasant mix of reflection and proclamation, of quietness and busyness, but I am glad that next week we will resume into the “more normal” life with the start of college and more regular community life…
However it really was a week to remember and indeed not easy to forget. In the beginning of the week I posted the short video account of the two professions last Sunday, and I just finished the account of the reception of the habits…
But as I said, I am trying to get back to normal, so a short reflection on the Gospel of this week, from the Gospel of Mark 9:30-37. Reading it this morning, two things struck me, one regarding the first part of the reading, the second regarding the second part.
In the first part we read that “They went on from there and passed through Galilee. And he would not have any one know it; for he was teaching his disciples” (Mar 9:30-31 RSV). Straight away I had to think of the thirteen men who received the Dominican habit last Monday as they have now started their noviciate.
The noviciate is a time of continuing and deepening the understanding of the vocation you are called to. It is a continuation of the discernment process in which the novice lives in the (Dominican) community and both sides can start to get to know each other. But while this is only the temporal side, the more important side is the spiritual side. The time in the noviciate is a time in which we, more than any other timne in our life, remove us from our normal daily activity in order to listen to our Lord, as “He explained everything privately to his own disciples” (Mar 4:34).
It takes time to learn to listen to our Lord explaining us, to learn to listen to the Spirit speaking directly into our hearts, and the only way to build up this relation is by spending time with our Lord in silence.We enclose ourself to be with God, that while we in the beginning like the apostles “did not understand the saying (Mar 9:32 RSV) we might start to hear “the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” (Joh 14:26 RSV)
Jesus was in the hight of His ministry, as we have been reading in the last few weeks, but we can see that He takes time to instruct His disciples. For example last week when “he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.”” (Mar 8:29 RSV) and at the beginning of chapter 9 with the transfiguration. He takes the time out to instruct His disciples and so we do the same, we lay down our active ministry for a while in order to be instructed by Jesus, an instruction deep in our hearts… It can be very difficult, especially when “our hearts burn within us” (Luk 24:32 RSV), but it is very necessary as we can read today in the Gospel.
The second point is the gentleness of Jesus in the second part of the Gospel. It is only a small point, but it just struck me that while the disciples got Jesus His message wrong once more as “on the way they had discussed with one another who was the greatest.” (Mar 9:34 RSV)
Jesus is very patient. “He sat down and called the twelve” (Mar 9:35 RSV). We might expect Him to read them a lesson on how stubborn they are, and how slow to understand His message. But this is not the case, he sits down and patiently explains once more the message of the Kingdom of God. Then “[He] took a child, and put him in the midst of them;” (Mar 9:36 RSV), and then “taking him in his arms, he said to them…” (Mar 9:36 RSV). Jesus is all compassion. If we reflect on this situation and think about it we cannot get any other impression of His love and patience.
It is important to look at these type of passages and to meditate on them. Here Jesus’ person is really shining though, and contemplating scenes like this will help us to see the face of God.
For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. (2Co 4:6 RSV)