New wine is poured into fresh wineskins (Mk. 2:22—NABRE)
The other apostles are indignant at James and John. Is it because the ten consider the two either hard-hearted or lacking in intelligence that they either do not accept or do not understand the meaning of both the humility preached repeatedly and the passion predicted for the third time? Or is this a case of like poles repelling, alike in ambition, that is?
But the poor are not bothered. They are used to ambitious people keeping in with the right folks. The poor do not grumble even when caught in the crossfire between opposing ambitious parties. They are patiently resigned to how life usually treats them: frequent victims of the inclemency of both weather and the economy; subjected to the tyranny and oppression—so common everybody knows about them—on the part of the rulers and the great ones; powerless before dictatorial and conscienceless capitalism. Says St. Vincent de Paul of the poor: “They usually remain at peace in the midst of their troubles and miseries” (Coste XII, 171).
But the “usually” of the poor comes from the grace of the extraordinary that God grants to the poor and simple, and which he refuses to the rich and learned who prefer the status quo to something unknown that may deprive them of their comfort and their control of things. The out of the ordinary refers to the greatness there is in servitude, the primacy in slavery, the salvation in perdition, the fullness in self-emptying, the superabundance of grace where sin abounds, the wealth in poverty. These unheard-of and unimaginable paradoxes, discussed in Father Robert P. Maloney’s “An Upside-Down Sign,” lead past the rich man’s faithful observance that still leaves him lacking in one thing. Jesus preached and embodied these paradoxes.
Jesus is the Servant who gave his life as an offering for sin. He justifies us because he bore our guilt. Sympathizing with us, he became like us in all things but sin. The Teacher is the perfect fulfillment of the teaching in Sir. 4:1-4 that we not grieve a needy person nor be indifferent to his sufferings. The good Shepherd is the opposite of shepherds whose silence harms the flock, says St. Gregory the Great, and whose absorption in worldly ways makes them to go after the honor of their office while neglecting its duties. The faithful Witness is the primordial martyr to whom he witnesses, according to St. Ambrose, someone who, helping the poor and proving himself humble by his compassion, does not give in to greed that impels him to take advantage of helpless orphans and widows, or to arrogance that makes him avert his face from the poor like those, for example, who are looked down upon by the proponent of atheist Ayn Rand’s individualism.
Among us Christians it should be as the out of the box that Jesus personified, not as the usual that insists that the one with authority play the master (Coste XI, 346). This is demanded by the new covenant sealed by Christ’s sacrifice.