Who Is the Best?
When I was a classroom teacher, a grammar lesson on superlative adjectives was usually a humorous one. I would begin the lesson with a fun, cartoon-style read-aloud and ask for examples of superlatives my students had seen in the world. Every year, without fail, once a few examples were on the board, a confident child would raise their hand and declare their favorite sports team “The Best.” This would, of course, derail the actual lesson for a few moments while a sports debate had to be discussed before we would continue with the lesson.
I was reminded of these memories in reading today’s Gospel passage from Mark. Jesus and the disciples are quietly traveling to Capernaum. On the way, Jesus explained that the Son of Man would be handed over, killed, and rise again after three days. My students would qualify this statement as a Really Big Deal that you should pay attention to. The disciples, however, are not focused on the crux of salvation being told to them by the Son of Man himself.
They are scared. They are confused. They don’t know what to do.
Instead of speaking up and asking questions, the disciples focus on a superficial superlative. Surely, one of them must be the greatest disciple! Upon reaching Capernaum, Jesus finally questions the group and they acknowledge their folly with silence.
It doesn’t matter who is the greatest disciple. It doesn’t matter what sports team name is on the board next to “Best”.
Satan tests our beliefs and preys upon our doubts. In today’s second reading from the book of James, we learn that jealousy and selfish ambition lead to disorder. However, when our actions are guided by the Father’s wisdom from above, only good can result. Jesus gave this message to the disciples and Satan bemoaned the truth in today’s first reading from the book of Wisdom. God will guide and defend us, all the days of our lives.
And that is truly the best news of all.