Memorial of Blessed Paul VI
Preceding today’s Gospel we would, were we looking in the Bible rather than the lectionary, read of the conditions of discipleship—take up your cross!—and the Transfiguration, as well as the healing of a boy possessed by a demon. Then, while all are astonished by these amazing things, we ready today that Jesus predicts His suffering and death yet again.
Three times in one week we hear this proclaimed. What does this have to do with following Him? Jesus tells us, though the meaning is hidden from those who heard Him the first time. But they did not, like us, have the benefit of knowing of the Cross: we do.
At first glance and, truly, Jesus is telling His followers of His inevitable betrayal. The very word betray literally means “to hand over.” He will, indeed, be “handed over” by Judas to those who will have Him slain but He will also, by the Eleven, be “handed on.” The word for this is tradition. When we look at the past week’s readings we might see how Jesus is showing His followers a fork in the road to discipleship: one is the way of betraying Christ through selfish pride and the other is the handing on of Christ to others through generous humility, by emptying oneself to be filled with Christ and then outpoured. Jesus warns them that He will be handed over and killed, but that He will also rise: He will be betrayed, but after will live on. One means by which He lives on is in the tradition entrusted to the apostles and handed on by their successors.
Here we find the gift of Scripture, the Church, the Sacraments and all else that we receive today. Even the Holy Spirit was given to them (John 20:22) to pass on to others (Acts 8:14-17). The true followers of Christ receive Him, welcoming the Living Word of God in their hearts and then hand Him on to others; we are not meant to keep Him entirely to ourselves. The humility to which Jesus has exhorted us all makes room for Him within us, and this ought to be such a joy that we want to do so over and over again. How better to do this than to pour Him out to others, be filled up, and poured out once more? This is the life of a disciple: to hear and to act, to let the Word become flesh in the world, to receive and to give. The thief—the betrayer—takes, whereas the disciple of Christ receives and, in imitation of Him, gives.
Let us humbly give to others what we ourselves have received—Jesus Christ—and let us give with the same spirit of love and generosity with which He has given Himself to us.