Today’s gospel takes us to the very heart of Mark’s gospel: the section in which Jesus predicts his own approaching passion and death and undertakes the seemingly impossible task of motivating the disciples to follow him. It is a tale, therefore, of opposition, both from the hostile adversaries of Jesus, but also from his own closest supporters.
The first reading has been chosen to give us an insight into today’s gospel. There’s a long biblical tradition about the rejection of the true prophets. The gospel writers saw this long tradition culminating in Jesus’ own experience.
The Wisdom passage offers a chilling description of what motivates the opponents of the true prophets and, most of all, what motivates Jesus’ enemies. The human heart can close itself totally against God’s grace and dedicate itself to crushing the cause of justice in the world. The wicked explicitly target “the just one” of whom Jesus is the prime example.
Our responsorial psalm is the response of the just one to the threats of the wicked. We know that Jesus, as a pious Jew, himself prayed the psalms. We can imagine Jesus praying this psalm in the moments—like those described in today’s gospel—when he was most in need of his Father’s strength and support.
The second reading is a continuation of the Letter of James. In today’s passage, James offers an insightful overview of the horrible conflicts—many of them violent—that constantly plague our world. What is the root cause of such turmoil and chaos, and how can we find a remedy? There is wisdom here that we should all take to heart.
—Walter Modrys SJ
This Sunday’s readings can be found on the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ website.