Pentecost +16 - Year B
I appreciate the advice that it is important to remember the horror of capital punishment, whether as slow and painful as a crucifixion or as fast and antiseptic as a lethal injection, for a solid year before talking about “cross-bearing” as a model for discipleship.
This advice comes from Richard Swanson in his Provoking the Gospel of Mark, who also asks: “Could the operative flow in the passage be something more like from rejection to welcome? If the flow is sketched that way, the middle term, in which the disciples embarrass themselves yet again, becomes a picture of people too inattentive to catch the tragedy of the first moment [crucifixion], and too full of themselves to catch the last [receiving people of low estate].”
To embrace that which is below one’s station, is to embrace all of creation [want to play G*D - here’s your chance]. We get all caught up with being sure we are not on the lowest rung of our current hierarchy and argue, argue, argue that we “are not” in the worst position. All the while not catching on that a welcome of one of the least is an invitation to both of us to move on up. The work is not to move up, but down. When this welcoming work is done we look around and by-golly we are even more blessed than we dared dream.
So is this strange process of proceeding by receding a design flaw in creation or a deep and beautiful blessing? [Note: this works in a milieu of achievement. If you are already settling for second-place because people are always telling you about your place - don’t listen to this posting, unionize, rise up.]