Great and small

Wisdom 1:16 — 2:22

Psalm 54

James 3:16 — 4:4

Mark 9:30-37

This passage from Wisdom is one of the Old Testament options for Good Friday, and my favorite among those options. It is a fine telling of the story of the suffering righteous one. Robert Herrick takes from this poem his line, “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,” in his poem, “To the virgins, to make much of time.” If we fail to find a larger purpose in life, then pleasure, or acquisition, or food or whatever the drug is, becomes the goal and end of life. In order to make life good, we indulge in more and more of whatever it is. The poor man who finds purpose in life puts the lie to our hope that a new house, a new car, a new spouse, or whatever will make life good. Let us leave signs of enjoyment wherever we go. That is the covenant the unjust have made with death. They live it.

The story in Mark’s Gospel comes on the heels of the disciples’ failure to cast out the unspeaking spirit from the boy whose father brought him to Jesus. They failed because they wanted to show which of them was the greatest, but spirits that rob children of their voice only come out by prayer, by accepting children as if one were accepting Jesus. Jesus embraces the child, giving an enacted parable of what greatness looks like.

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