Salt within you and peace between you- Thursday, 7th Week in ordinary time- Mk 9:41-50
Jesus is in Capernaum and is teaching his apostles privately (vs35). He is teaching them about servant leadership, one that does not find its justification in position and power but one that is as powerless as a little child. It is a child that Jesus places before them, as a model for Christian leadership.
Jesus’ demand from his apostles and by extension to all Christian leaders is not merely to be limited to a ‘reactive ministry’ where the focus is on what one must not do but a ‘proactive ministry’ by outlining what one must do. Jesus’ concern is not limited to only children but to every person who is at a disadvantage.
Among the disadvantaged are those who are novices in the faith. Mark’s community must have had many such people who were perhaps constantly being disturbed by others in the community. Perhaps this disturbance was not only a matter related to faith but also possibly some who were leading others into sin. It is for this reason that Jesus exhorts his disciples to rather tie a millstone around their neck and jump in the sea than to disturb those who were seeking Him with a sincere heart.
Extending his exhortation a bit further, He hyperbolically (not literally) tells his disciples that the goal of the disciple is to move towards excellence. Being a good Christian leader is good but not good enough; the ideal is to strive for excellence even in one’s moral life. So if ones hand, foot or eye were to cause a Christian leader or a disciple of Christ to deviate from the goal of excellence then they should consider the possibility that heaven would rather be welcoming of an imperfect body but not an imperfect soul.
The Christian leaders’ example is thus the ‘gold standard’ of Christian life. He or she is called to set the example of excellence by their manner of life for the community to follow and should they not, then they would be the cause for others to stumble.
So the Christian leader is called to be salted. Like salt adds taste to food so too must the Christian leader add flavour to the life of the community by his or her manner of life. They are to be the agents of spiritual wisdom in the life of the community. But this seasoning must also permeate in the life of the Christian community. The community is to have salt in them and peace between them (verse 50)
So while Jesus makes a demand of excellence from his disciples and of Christian leaders he is also calling the community to rise to the benchmark set by good leaders and not settle for a mediocre way of life in their spiritual calling.
Fr Warner D’souza
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