''Pay attention to what I am telling you. The Son of Man is to be handed over to men.''
SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 25 – XXV WEEK O.T. [B]
Everyone sees God in Christ Jesus. Everyone is astonished by the things he did and the way in which he did: with the simplicity of his Word. However, Jesus wants his disciples not to delude themselves, not to make dreams of human greatness, not to think about things of this earth. Jesus cares about bringing them in the cruellest realities. In some days, they will no longer see anything of this greatness. Why?
They will no longer see anything since everything ''in appearance'' will end. Everything will end since the Son of man will end. In fact, He will be handed over the hands of men. He will be put in the hands of men and these ones will make everything they want of Him. They will tie him, split him, scourge him, crucify him, they will make him die bled out on a cross. This is the ''apparent'' end of the greatness of God they are admiring. It is in this end that the faith of the disciples will be severely tested. They will have to fight against the offence of the cross. A crucified Messiah, a Messiah who ends his life on a cross, what Messiah is he? Even so, the Crucified is the true Messiah of the Lord. If the disciples are astonished by the greatness of God that Jesus reveals today, much more will they have to be astonished by the humbleness of the Son of man who hangs from the cross. Now the disciples are called to revise their faith in the Messiah of the Lord.
Jesus does not want his disciples to be disconcert by what happens around Him. Jesus has not come to manifest the greatness of God performing miracles or prodigies. There is another way through which one should manifest the greatness of God in him and in the world: the total annihilation of oneself, in that handover of his life into the hand of men, who will make him a non-man, since they will deprive him of every right and will deny him every dignity. Thus the Apostle Paul to Philippians: ''Who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.'' (Phil 2,6-11).
The greatness of God will be manifested in him in the love and in the forgiveness and in the offer of his own life for the salvation of the world, among the afflictions and the atrocities of a violent, ruthless and cruel death. At that moment Jesus will manifest the true greatness of God that is the full submission of his humanity to his soul and spirit and therefore to the will of his Father who is in heaven. This is why the disciples cannot distract, neither let themselves be attracted by other greatness.
What is the answer of the disciples of Jesus before such revelation? The most total closure both of mind and of heart. They do not catch the sense of the words of Jesus. They fear to question him about the true meaning of each of his word. It is as if they had decided all together to walk with their closed eyes not to see the reality. The heart closed to truth can be opened only by the grace of the Holy Spirit. But Jesus must say these things. By saying them, the disciples, even if they do not understand them today, they will understand them tomorrow. Jesus always works in the prospective of the forthcoming future. Not always working in the prospective of the present is a right pastoral way. It would be true spiritual myopia.
Let us read the text of 9, 43-45
And all were astonished by the majesty of God. While they were all amazed at his every deed, he said to his disciples, ''Pay attention to what I am telling you. The Son of Man is to be handed over to men.'' But they did not understand this saying; its meaning was hidden from them so that they should not understand it, and they were afraid to ask him about this saying.
The future must be prepared with the proclamation of the truth. The proclaimed truth is not understood today. It will be understood tomorrow. The today of truth prepares the tomorrow of truth, as well. If today this truth is not sowed, not even will it understood tomorrow. Truth is like a seed which is thrown on the soil. When it falls on the soil, it is immediately swallowed by it. Only after being swallowed and devoured by the soil, the tender plant comes out, from which other fruits will mature tomorrow. This is the law for the sowing of the truth: today for tomorrow; today for the future. Jesus sows the truth of his life today. Tomorrow, in the future, the disciples will understand, will believe, will open themselves to the purest and most perfect faith in Him. This holy methodology of Jesus must be lived and testified with every wisdom by every good sower of the Gospel.
But the apostles do not understand what Jesus would want it to be understood from now. There is an abyss between the mystery that is about to be fulfilled in Jesus and their mind. But there is also the fear that closes their heart impeding to ask for explanations, to address some questions about the words of Jesus. Why this fear and this closure? The reason must be researched in the will of the disciples who let themselves be carried by the things of the world too easily. We know that between the thought of man and the Word of Jesus there is an unbridgeable infinite abyss. Instead, Jesus wants them to enter his heart, his mystery, his life and make it their own, taking it as their own life. This is the discipleship he wants. While the disciples still follow him only externally, attracted and fascinated by the great deeds he performs, by the greatness acting in him.
There is still a long journey to fulfil, there is still steep road to walk. But the day when the disciples understand will come, but their Master will not be among them. However, there will be the living memory of Jesus among them operated in them by the Holy Spirit. This must also prompt us to think how much it is difficult to enter the spirit of a man, of a woman one chooses as guide, one follows day after day and of whom one experiments the greatness through which he works and acts. Until one enters the spirit moving and animating them, until one perceives and fully understand their mystery, one always remain in an external discipleship.
The Apostle Paul reveals that only the Holy Spirit knows the thought of God, the thought of Christ and He alone can put us into communion: ''Among human beings, who knows what pertains to a person except the spirit of the person that is within? Similarly, no one knows what pertains to God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the things freely given us by God. And we speak about them not with words taught by human wisdom, but with words taught by the Spirit, describing spiritual realities in spiritual terms. Now the natural person does not accept what pertains to the Spirit of God, for to him it is foolishness, and he cannot understand it, because it is judged spiritually. The spiritual person, however, can judge everything but is not subject to judgment by anyone. For ''who has known the mind of the Lord, so as to counsel him?'' But we have the mind of Christ.'' (1Cor 2,11-16).
If we want to know the thought of Christ, his heart, his desires, his will, his mind, we must be filled with the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit dwelling in us, that grows in us, that is enlivened by us day after day who puts us into communion with Christ Jesus and by the means of Christ Jesus with the Father. When in us the Holy Spirit fades, also the mystery of Christ and of the Father fades. The Son and the Father remain in their eternal, divine, heavenly mystery. We remain on our earth. Without the Holy Spirit in us, we cannot even know, as well. Even the knowledge of ourselves is work in us of the Spirit of the Lord. May the Mother of Jesus help us today and ever. We want to grow in the Holy Spirit so as to know the mystery of Christ the Lord.