Jesus begins to set out for Jerusalem in today’s reading at Mass from the 10th chapter of Mark’s gospel. Matthew offers a similar account in the 19th and 20th chapters of his gospel.
Jesus doesn’t go to Jerusalem alone, he invites others to go with him. It’s a journey to resurrection and life and more than a couple of days, but as they hear Jesus describe the way to Jerusalem, people react like people do,
You can’t miss human weakness in the journey stories of Mark’s and Matthew’s gospel, beginning with the Pharisees. I suppose they represent human doubt and questioning that’s always there. The disciples rebuked the women bringing their children forJesus’ blessing, and Jesus rebukes them. Be like children to make the journey, Jesus tells them.
The rich young man wants to hold on to what he has, so he goes away sad. Peter says proudly he’ s given up everything to follow Jesus, but we know how inconstant he is. The story of the brothers, James and John, is obviously a story of human ambition.
Matthew offers Mark’s stories in chapter 19 and 20 of his gospel. The artist Rembrandt drew a remarkable picture of the 19th and 20th chapter of Matthew called the Hundred Guilder Print.
Jesus stands at the center of Rembrandt’s work, bathed in light, his hands outstretched to the crowds before him.
Peter stands at Jesus right, close by. Other disciples, probably James and John, are next to him. Women and their children, whom the disciples told to go away, are next to them. The rich young man is also there in the crowd. Is he reconsidering?
Some of the enemies of Jesus who plotted against him and argued with him are also there, talking among themselves, but they’re still in the picture. Rembrandt even pictures the camel, back by the city gates.
Jesus sheds his light on them all. His arms are open to them all. Rembrandt has it right. Grace is more powerful than human weakness. It’s everywhere.