January 27, 2015
Dear brothers and sisters,
The good news today is from Mark 10:13-16.
And people were bringing children to him that he might touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this he became indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not prevent them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.” Then he embraced them and blessed them, placing his hands on them.
Parents even today often present their children to be touched or blessed by someone respected like the Pope or President. The practice of politicians kissing babies may be the same kind of thing. There’s something about celebrity that compels some people to do this sort of thing. It’s almost as if they believe that some of the charisma or blessedness — as in the case of the Pope — will rub off on their children. It has a bit of the tinge of magic. I can imagine that’s what was going on. Jesus had developed quite a reputation by this time and people were always crowding around him, appealing for healing or hoping to receive something of his power. So, I can understand why his disciples were trying to protect Jesus. That’s what it seems to me they were trying to do anyway. Maybe they were a little over zealous about it. At any rate, the children were the innocents pawns in this scene and Jesus did not want them turned away, rejected.
There seem to be two points here. Children are of necessity receivers not givers of what they need for sustenance in life. Jesus has been making the point to his disciples for quite some time in Mark’s gospel that they are to be receptive to all people and to be of service to all people. They were slow learners like me. That was the reason he rebuked them; they continued to forget what he had been teaching them as they tried to keep all these children from being thrust upon Jesus instead of being open to them and looking for ways to serve them as the least in society.
There may be another lesson. A young child is totally dependent upon its parents and usually obedient as well. Children have no power nor status nor control. That’s likely what Jesus was inferring about accepting the kingdom of God in a child-like way. It is only in recognizing my dependence on God and in bending my will to His instead of asserting my own will and trying to exercise control that I can enter the kingdom of God — now or later. What am image Mark gives me. If I behave as a child, as a true disciple, Jesus will embrace me and bless me by the laying on of his hands. I like to imagine myself being touched by Jesus like that.