What does it take to change the world? You may hear: “you can’t fight city hall.” Or, “what can I do? I’m only one person?” Or, more hopefully, “can one person make a difference?” The well-known anthropologist Margaret Mead has a response to all of these questions: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
Every day, firefighters and police officers make the decision to put themselves in danger, risking their lives to save another person. They measure their lives not by length, but by depth and quality. Death has no power to limit their lives. They walk a path of freedom, toward a higher goal than personal comfort and safety.
Firefighters don’t want someone standing beside them saying that studies show the respiratory equipment isn’t powerful enough to beat the smoke. Police officers don’t need to hear tremulous whispers that the bullets for sale on the street will pierce their body armor. So Jesus rebuked Peter for trying to prevent him from facing what was coming.
Jesus changed the world, and the cost was his life. In the reading for today from Mark’s gospel, Jesus explains to his disciples that he is walking a road leading to suffering and death. He was fearless, and knew that going up against the powers that be–the Roman Empire and the established religious leaders–was only going to end one way. Jesus measured his life by his commitment to bringing God’s kingdom to the world, not by the number of years he lived in it.
Jesus prepared to take up his cross and said to his friends, once again, “Follow me.” When we take up our cross, we are not forced into meaningless suffering. As Bishop Barbara Harris said, “Your cross is the burden you carry for Jesus, and for the Gospel. It is your choice, and you can always put it down if it is too heavy for you.” It is the work of love to lift that burden, not a punishment. It is the work of trying to change the world.
Questions to think about:
- Have you ever given up something, or been injured, because you were trying to help someone? (Gotten bruised catching someone who was falling, for example). Would you willingly do the same thing again?
- What can you do to bring justice, healing and peace to the world?
Possible children’s activities: Here are some activities focusing on Peace:
Blessings, Mother Anne+