Speaking to the Soul: Fear and welcome


Today’s Readings:
AM  Psalm 80 PM  Psalm 77, 79
Isaiah 58:1-12; Galatians 6:11-18

Mark 9:30-41


They argue about who is the greatest. There is a discussion about welcoming the least. They tattle on the other leaders with whom they disagree. They are reprimanded for creating more division.

This story sounds all too familiar these days. In a world of ‘alternative facts’ where the line between opinion and fact seems hopelessly blurred, the disciples unwillingness to admit their lack of understanding is striking.

“But they did not understand what he was saying
and were afraid to ask him.” (Mark 9:32)

This fear not only prevents them from seizing the opportunity to benefit from the wisdom of their teacher and leader, it leads them into discord. Instead of learning, they engage in an unproductive argument about who is greater. And, when Jesus questions what they’re arguing about, they fall silent for a second time.

What question are you afraid to ask God? The social media culture of quantifying greatness in units of ‘likes’ and shares suggests that, at some point, we all have something we fear to ask.

The disciples are failing to comprehend more than just Jesus’ future. Their silence on both counts indicates their failure to recognize his graciousness. They fear his judgment. They forget that they are beloved.

But, Jesus does not judge or even reprimand them. Instead, he embraces a child. Jesus reminds his disciples that it is how they show humility in welcoming others that makes them great. And, he subtly reminds them, that it is not about getting everything right. There are no sides or factions when it comes to showing love and extending welcome. It’s not about following the correct leader or being the greatest.

It’s about love. It’s about seeing God in someone else. It’s about welcoming another and welcoming God.

How do you welcome others? How do you welcome God?

“Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.” (9:37)


Sarah Brock is a postulant in the Diocese of Massachusetts and lives in Boston.

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