{By way of interest I notice that the new version of the Scriptures being used in our Lectionary follows the Psalm numbering of most translations, and not the alternative as was the case in the former Lectionary, as well as most of the older Catholic versions. I provide the alternate numbering in case some of you are using your Bibles in addition to the Sunday Missal.}

In the last couple of weeks we have been using the Sunday Scriptures to reflect on our need to be encouraged by the Good News, not to turn backwards, and to ensure we develop a healthy sense of realism as we USE our faith to negotiate our way through the difficulties and challenges of living our lives as disciples of the Lord.

So, words from THIS SUNDAY’S PSALM [54 or 53] have an additional value.

“The Lord is the upholder of my life … (he defends) my cause … I have God for my help … the Lord sustains.”

These words provide a healthy ingredient in our quest for realism of faith.

In the past I have often made reference to the fact that so often, in the face of hardshipsor sufferings, the question is asked: “God, why me?” So, let us offer an alternative: “Good Lord, HOW me?” (to coin a phrase!) This is the question I must ask him and MYSELF when faced with all the different challenges of living. This is the realism of faith and the question is asked against a full-hearted acceptance of thewords quoted from our Psalm.

Do not be afraid to ask the question. Then, give yourself (and the Lord) time to answer it!  TODAY’S GOSPEL [MARK 9: 30 – 37] tells us that the disciples “did not understand the saying, and they were afraid to ask him.” If you read the text carefully, you will realise that they understood what Jesus was saying about his passion and death, but they did not understand “after three days he will rise.” The Lord’s contemporary disciples suffer under the same difficulty. We understand the presence of suffering and difficulties but we battle with the essential concept of the Good News that we “will rise” – provided we do not wallow in self-pity. How do I work through this? How do I not become a victim? These are the questions we must not be afraid to ask him, and ourselves.

What we must remember is that in Mark’s version of the Gospel, on three different occasions, Jesus predicts his passion and death. However, each announcement concludes with the assurance that “he will rise.” Are we slow learners? The Lord knew the Psalms well, and he was realistically convinced that “I have God for my help. The Lord sustains my soul.” Do not overlook the fact that this Gospel extract informs us that Jesus “was teaching his disciples.” They were on their own, and he was giving them personal attention. He was making a very special effort to get them to understand.

Here it is that we should make a careful note of OUR OLD TESTAMENT EXTRACT [WISDOM 2: 12. 17 – 20].“Let us see … let us test what will happen.” There is always the temptation to think that we are already beaten, and so we underestimate ourselves, our faith, and the GOOD NEWS! This extract continues with the words “for if the righteous man is God’s (child), he will help him, and will deliver him (her) from his (her) adversaries.”

Do I believe I am a CHILD OF GOD that he IS my father, and will provide for ALL situations?

OR, am I distracted by other, trivial and unworthy considerations? This is not an unrealistic question. See in the Gospel extract that while the disciples “did not understand”, and were “afraid to ask,” they managed to find time and interest to discuss “on the way … who was the greatest.”SHAME ON THEM … and, very often, shame on us!

The NEW TESTAMENT READING [JAMES 3: 15 – 4:3] has a challenge for us. What we do ask and discuss is often irrelevant and counter productive. We fail to discover the answer to our rising“because (we) do not ask,” and when we do, we “ask wrongly.”

Ask HIM how to rise, and hear HIS answer. “And he sat down and called (them).”