Unless You Become Like A Child
“… the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”
Children. To us children are lovable (most of the time), and bring smiles to our faces as we play with them, watch them at their games, or even put up with their tantrums. We put children first, denying ourselves what we need to make sure a child is provided for. In Jesus’ day, however, children were last. Sixty percent of children never reached adulthood. During their minor years they were on the same level as slaves. So when Jesus puts his arms around the children in a protective hug, he is sending a countercultural message. “This is what you can have if you live with the dependence of a child, counting solely on God for everything you need: intimacy with God, protection, safety, someone to look after you. This is the way I live with the Father, and I am inviting you to do the same.”
It is significant that this story follows that of the Pharisees testing Jesus, trying to trip him up, refusing to believe unless he meets their criteria. A child would never do that. We can certainly fall into the same trap, refusing to follow Jesus’ teaching because it doesn’t fit our idea of right and wrong. We, too, can be hard of heart before the law of God concerning the invitation to and promise of faithfulness in covenantal love represented in the covenantal fidelity of marriage.
Jesus certainly raises the bar in this section of Mark’s Gospel. It is difficult to be faithful to discipleship to Christ in the Church. I don’t think it was meant to be easy. I have seen struggling people, people in broken marriages, honest sinners who are inescapably dependent on God’s love and mercy in difficult situations. Though they have fallen short in keeping the law, they are “children,” and thus warmly embraced by Jesus.
God, today I pray for people whom you long to embrace, but who, for whatever reason, find it difficult to trust you with their lives. I am one of them, at least at times, but at this moment I want to remember in prayer the following persons: (recall their names).
I am your child, O God, and I need you in my life.
Daughters of St. Paul. (2011). Ordinary Grace Weeks 18–34: Daily Gospel Reflections. (M. G. Dateno & M. L. Trouvé, Eds.) (pp. 170–171). Boston, MA: Pauline Books & Media.