Homilies by Father Jaimon Dominic » Notes » Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time 2018

  • Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time 2018

    Posted by Mary Wilson September 23, 2018 - Category: Spirituality - 487 views - 0 comments - 0 likes


    Biblical scholars have discovered in Bible stories a pattern which they call “the younger child motif.” They found that in stories that have to do with two brothers or two sisters, it is almost invariably the younger one who emerges as the hero, the good guy, the one who laughs last. Starting from the story of Cain and Abel, through those of Ishmael and Isaac, Esau and Jacob, Joseph and his brothers, David and his brothers, Adonijah and Solomon, Leah and Rachel, the prodigal son and his elder brother, to that of Mary and Martha, we find it is usually the younger sibling who ends up more at peace with God and people. It is hard to make sense of this biblical pattern, but a theory put forward by Carl Jung seems to help.

    According to Carl Jung, the human personality is driven by two energies, which he calls by the Latin words of senex, meaning old man or senior, and puer eternis, the eternal boy or child. The senior is more wise, prudent and calculating, always looking before leaping and so ends up often not leaping at all. The child energy, on the other hand, is more venturesome, more prone to making mistakes, and takes more chances. The senior is more preserving and security conscious, the child is more like easy-come-easy-go, more prepared to change and to let go. The senior is more geared towards competition, power and success, the child energy is more attuned to cooperation and celebration. The senior is more responsible while the child is more lighthearted. In large families, it often happens that parents transfer their senior energies to their first children and the latter children end up conserving more of their child energies. Jung goes on to say that when one of these two energies takes over the personality entirely, the result is personality death. To be fully human, fully alive, these two energies must find a balance, a harmony in the personality.

    When we look at the actions of the disciples in today’s gospel, we find that they are acting from a senior energy overdrive. First, we find that, for the second time, Jesus tries to tell them in plain language of the suffering, death and resurrection that awaits him in Jerusalem. They do not understand, yet they do not ask. Isn’t that typical of senior men? They say one reason God created Eve was because God was afraid that Adam would always be lost in the garden because men hate to ask for directions. That is the senior energy expressing itself. Another expression of the senior energy in the disciples is their argument on the way about which of them was the greatest. This shows that they are relating to one another and working with one another on the basis of competition rather than cooperation.

    Even Jesus advocated the ‘child energy’ and it is evident from the gospels that John, the youngest of the apostles, is most favored by Jesus and Tradition identifies John with the disciple “whom Jesus loved.” He will sit in the most intimate position at the Last Supper (John 13:23). It will be to him that Jesus gives the care of his mother. Read beyond the end of our Gospel selection this week and you will see that it is John who is emboldened to speak, and he does so without fear of reprisal. He says that he and his brother James had rebuked a man for driving out demons because he was not part of their group. Rather than castigating John (compare John 9:38–41 with what Jesus says to Peter in Mark 8:33, “Get behind me, Satan!”), Jesus gently corrects him as a teacher might correct a favorite student. This special relationship between Jesus and John will continue to grow as the Gospel narrative moves toward Jerusalem and the events of the passion. John will be with Jesus every step of the way. Now you begin to understand where the little child comes in.

    “Then Jesus took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, ‘Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me’” (Mark 9:36-37).

    The critical importance of this declaration lies in this: that unless we welcome the child, all our efforts to accept the Lord Jesus as our personal Lord and savior may be as unproductive as the efforts of the disciples to follow Jesus. To accept the child can mean more than one thing, but one thing it must include, according to Jung’s analysis, is to accept the child part of our personality. With this we become less calculating, less concerned about our personal dignity or shame, less afraid of failure and death, and less grabbing for power and success. With more of the child energy, we shall be more disposed to take a leap in the dark, to let go. Then, only, does believing and following Jesus become possible.

    Our culture today, even more than the Hebrew culture of the disciples, is heavily biased in favor of the senior energy. Like the disciples we are very success oriented, and we measure success in terms of comparing ourselves with others. Jesus challenges us today to make room for the childlike energy of trust, of laughter, of cooperation with one another. Whether we are nine years old or ninety-nine, and whether we are the firstborn, the last-born, or the only child of the family, the message of Jesus challenges us all to become young at heart. This is the only way to join the company of the younger sons and daughters of the Bible to whom the kingdom of God belongs.

    Image via CCSearch/Flickr/Waiting for the Word