6th Friday in Ordinary Time, Yr 1, February 17, 2023
Gn 11:1-9; Ps 33:10-15; Mk 8:34-9:1
Whenever I hear the reading of the Tower of Babel, my mind goes back to the late 1970s and I think of a Babel Fish. That small yellowish fish that when you stick it in your ear, you immediately are able to understand every known language in the world. While it may be farfetched to actually work, many folks have invented devices to try and do that. One company even called their online translator, the Babel Fish app. The goal by all these companies is to get everyone to understand each other. Funny, God used the Tower of Babel to confuse man so he would scatter all over the world. And, as God says, so that man would have a hard time understanding each other and not get themselves into so much trouble with their sinful behavior.
I am not sure if that worked well, because man definitely got himself into a lot of trouble with his sinful nature, as the Old Testament tells us. But I can tell you that during my travels as a younger man, I ran across many times where I could not understand a word someone else was telling me. I had to rely on my actions, and the few words I did know, to convey a message. In most cases, that message had to be positive or I may not have been here today.
Theologians tell us that the Tower of Babel represented the division of man. How our own desires and sinful manner not only divided us from each other, it divided us from God. A stark reminder of how our sin separates us from those we love, and our love for God.
Jesus uses a different analogy in our Gospel reading today. Jesus uses the analogy of redemptive suffering for us to understand our separation from Him. Take up your cross, and follow me, He says. Unless we are willing to deny our sin, face our humiliation and follow Him, even Jesus will be ashamed of us. I cannot even imagine the humiliation one would have if even Jesus was ashamed of you. Make no mistake, He still loves you and wants you to come to Him, but it is a pretty stark message for those suffering in sin and being separated from God.
So how do we change Jesus’s attitude toward us? Well for starters, do not be ashamed of Him. Do not be afraid to speak up when someone is making fun of Him. Or when someone is using His name in vain. Do we really need to be meek and vain when surrounded by people who constantly swear using God’s name in vain? Walk away, do not participate, or better yet, tell them you are offended by their language. What is the worst that can happen? They unfriend you? Well, if they do, they were never your friends to begin with. You may be shamed, or persecuted, but this is what Jesus is talking about when He says, “Deny yourselves, take up your cross, and follow me.” We do not need a Babel Fish in our ears to let those around us know whom we are following. Let your actions be your words, even to those who cannot understand you.
Following Jesus is never easy, and Jesus calls us to a high standard. But, if we have faith in Him, we have love. With that love, everything we do, we do in His name. One cannot be there without the other. These are the crosses we carry, the ones of faith and love. And when we do, Jesus will never be ashamed of us. And that is all that matters.