- Wis. 2:12, 17-20. The just person, characterized by gentleness and patience, is tested, persecuted and even killed by the self-confident wicked.
- James 3:16-4:3. Jealousy and strife beget inconstancy, conflicts and vile behavior. Wisdom is innocent, peaceable, impartial and sincere.
- Mark 9:30-37. Jesus’ announcement of his passion and death leaves the disciples speechless. In the meanwhile they argue who was the most important among themselves. Jesus’ reply: whoever welcomes a child for my sake, welcomes me.
Thoughts for your consideration: By Fr. Sebastian MacDonald, CP
There is a saying to the effect that, should a butterfly flap its wings in one part of the world, there will be repercussions of that infinitesimally small action elsewhere in the world. This assertion is based on the principle that everything is connected, so that nothing happens in isolation.
There are concerns of Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation (JPIC) associated with this assertion. And today’s biblical readings lend themselves to an illustration of this principle, and this example.
For instance, the gospel depicts Jesus in a teaching mode regarding His disciples. Having just warned them about what lay ahead for Him (sufferings, death and Resurrection) He discovers, surely to His chagrin, that there was absolutely no linkage whatsoever between His remark and the disciples’ receptive capacity, as they focused on their advancement in His company. So He decided to do some linkage of His own, advocating a sense of lowliness on their part, by esteeming the value of an insignificant child whom He embraces, for achieving status with Him and His Father by their doing likewise. He suggests an interconnection here between their external behavior and an interior mindset.
St. James, likewise, focuses on relationships in the behavior patterns of his correspondents. He notes the foul practices and disorders erupting in their midst, escalating into wars and conflicts. In his opinion, they derive from within: their passions, their ambitions, and their jealousy. Like Jesus before him, he appeals to a matter of the heart (the wisdom of prayer) as a solution for these external troubles.
The author of the book of Wisdom gives his own witness to the interconnections prevailing between the inner and the outer phases of our lives, by posing the case of a just person who criticizes others for their transgressions and violations of their training, thereby rousing their anger. So they decide to try his/her gentleness and patience by violations and torture, to see whether such a one’s interior trust in God will suffice to sustain abuse from without.
Each of these scenarios is an instance of a butterfly flapping its wings, impacting another phase of life. Such was the case when Jesus embraced a child so as to change the disciples’ conduct; and when James proposed to his correspondents that they secure a bit of wisdom so as to improve the way they acted; and when the Wise Man praised the example of the just person’s patient, trusting relationship with God before the persecution undergone for upholding righteousness.
There are JPIC issues at stake here: interpersonal rivalries threatening comradeship, disorders escalating into wars and conflicts, social disruptions deserving criticism. None of these exist in isolated fashion, separated from the rest of life. They emerge out of ambition, passion, and hatred. They too resemble the flapping of a butterfly’s wings, but instead of initiating values of harmony, peace and order residing within they are initiating a negative set of values which will also have powerful repercussions. What we do here and how we behave in the moment is crucial. Immediate actions and attitudes may seem insignificant but whether we realize it or not, they are impacting our internal mindset and external surroundings.
Questions for your Reflection:
- What set of values dictate our behavior and attitude toward ourselves, each other and the world? Can we name these values? How do we maintain consistency in applying these values?
- None of us can claim to be impervious to negative attitudes. Prayer, solitude, meditation and retreats are organized ways to process these moments. How do we integrate these methods to specifically address our own negative attitudes? Should we consider promoting these methods within our own family and local community?