Sunday Gospel: Mark 9:30-37
UMIBIG ka na ba at nasaktan, padre? A young man once asked me, “Have you ever loved and been hurt, Father?” Without hesitation, I answered, “Of course, I have.”
In the gospel today, Jesus talks about his own death a second time. He sat down his apostles and taught them that the “Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him and after three days he will rise.”
Jesus refers to himself as the “Son of Man.” In the Greek translation of the gospels, the “Son of Man” has been used 81 times and all in the sayings of Jesus. The Hebrew expression for Son of Man, ben’Adam appears a hundred times in the Hebrew Bible.
Who is the Son of Man? Why does Jesus refer to himself as the Son of Man? In the other parts of the gospel of Mark, Jesus is proclaimed as the Son of God: at the start of the gospel (Mk 1:1), at the baptism (Mk 1:11), by the devils (Mk 3.11), at the transfiguration (Mk 9:7) and finally on the cross (Mk 15:39).
There are two references and meanings of the Son of Man in the Old Testament. First, the prophet Ezekiel uses the expression “Son of Man” as a synonym for mortal human being (Ezekiel chapters 2 and 3). Second is in the book of the prophet Daniel where the “Son of Man,” is not an ordinary mortal but a glorious figure who will come at the end of time.
In the gospel of Mark, the Son of Man is line with the prophet Ezekiel - to refer to the humanness and ordinariness of Jesus and His emphasis on suffering, death and resurrection connecting it to the Prophet Isaiah’s idea of the Suffering Servant (Is 53). Only towards the end of the gospel of Mark will Mark refer to the glorious side of the Son of Man (Mk 13.26).
By using the expression, “Son of Man” Jesus is simply stressing the fact the he is truly human - like the rest of us. Jesus is the Son of Adam, he is therefore our brother. He received his human body from Mary. As a man he knows what its like to be happy, pleased and surprised but also to be lonely, angry, tempted and pain. He loved. He allowed himself to be loved. He was rejected and hurt. He wept.
But then again, it does not end there: “...He will rise.” By calling himself the Son of Man, Jesus is also referring to this vision of the kingdom of God - He is the one who saved us and is Lord of all. As the Son of Man, Jesus is referring to his own humanity and divinity.
Jesus came to show us how to love - to love even to the very end. Love is a verb. Oftentimes it is best expressed in actions not words. Jesus did not just speak about love. He is love. And paid the price. “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13)
Sadly while Jesus was trying to teach the apostles the deep act of love he was going to express on the cross, the apostles were more concerned with position and greatness. Loving is not about you rather about the one you love. All true acts of loving always puts the one loved at the centre.
Try to remember your own experience of loving. What did you do for love? Loving always brings out the best in us. It is a call to holiness. Don’t be afraid to love. Don’t be afraid of holiness.
Pope Francis (@Pontifex) tweeted, “We are all called to be holy by living our lives with love and by bearing witness in everything we do. #GaudeteetExsultate”