According to the astronomical calendar Autumn begins on Wednesday, September 22nd. ‘Autumn leaves are subtle reminders that we are asked to let go of many things throughout our lives. Autumn’s energy causes us to take stock and decide what to hold on to and what to let go. No new growth will come unless Autumn agrees to let go of what has been. The same is true of our lives. This is a universal principle – in order to grow, we must release something. We are in a constant process of integrating new information, aspects of ourselves, perceptions and ideas and we come to realize that some old ways of doing things no longer work. Although we must all let go of some things, we also integrate those experiences into our psyches as wisdom. The leaves that fall lose their form, but as they break down into compost, their transformed substance continues to serve the growth and well-being of the tree.’
Constance L. Habash
In today’s gospel, Jesus challenges his disciples to let go of two of their misconceptions. Firstly, he wanted to prepare them, again, for bad news (the Passion) and good news (the Resurrection), but they did not want to hear him. Jesus’ prediction of the future was incomprehensible because it did not coincide with the disciples’ hopes and plans. Secondly, Jesus presents to his disciples a completely different interpretation of the word ‘greatness’, one which involves being last, one which involves being of service. ‘It is significant that Jesus brings a child to illustrate this point. In Jesus’ day, even more so than now, children were among the most powerless and most vulnerable of society. And so the disciples, who had been arguing about greatness and with it of course power, were redirected by Jesus to radically shift their focus and to open their arms to the powerless. He also said that welcoming the lowest of the low is not simply a nice thing to do. When we welcome the least of these, we are welcoming the presence of Christ that is found in each person we meet. We are developing a relationship with Jesus himself and through Jesus, with the Father who created us all.
‘Whenever we are called to let go of something safe, secure and familiar we are invited to be birthed again. Each radical change in our lives summons us to a greater fullness, to a more complete transformation of our inner self.’
Autumn shows us how beautiful it is to let things go.
Gospel: Mark 9: 30-37
After leaving the mountain Jesus and his disciples made their way through Galilee; and he did not want anyone to know, because he was instructing his disciples; he was telling them, “The Son of Man will be delivered into the hands of men; they will put him to death: and three days after he has been put to death he will rise again.” But they did not understand what he said and were afraid to ask him.
They came to Capernaum, and when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” They said nothing because they had been arguing which of them was the greatest. So he sat down, called the Twelve to him and said, “If anyone wants to be first, he must make himself last of all and servant of all. He then took a little child, set him in front of them, put his arms round him, and said to them, “Anyone who welcomes one of these little children in my name, welcomes me; and anyone who welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”