So right away the focus of the reading is on the kingdom of God and how one should receive it. The occasion of this teaching was the apparent interruption by a group of Jewish parents who sought the blessing of Jesus for their children for He was considered by many as a prominent rabbi. Such behaviour was common practice at the time of Jesus and we see the same today with religious leaders. The disciples rebuked them, because they felt Jesus was wasting His time on these youngsters. They, probably, thought that Jesus should be taking care of more weighty matters; and Jesus is indignant. Mark often stresses Jesus’ showing of strong feeling. (See 1:41, 43; 3:5; 7:34; 8:34; 9:19) and here it is directed at the disciples for their failure to understand Jesus and the nature of the kingdom that he preached; and that in the gospel of Mark happens repeatedly.
It is this incident that becomes the setting for one more teaching about the Kingdom of God and what kind of people can expect to be a part of it. For Jesus, only those who recognize and receive the kingdom of God as A GIFT can be a part of the kingdom. So the kingdom is for those who make no claims to power or status and like a gift, is freely given. It is not a RIGHT or a PRIVILEGE as many think it is. God gives this gift of the kingdom to all ‘his children’ who like little children receive it with joy. It is to such that the kingdom of God belongs.
The call of Jesus is not for us to be childish but childlike in our approach to faith, to God and His kingdom. Childish faith ends up in spiritual tantrums and is often manifested in petty religious issues. Childishness makes us Pharisaic. Jesus wants us to have the larger kingdom in mind and not be bogged down with trivialities of traditions associated to the faith. If we persist in childish ways then the kingdom of God will be shut to us. But for those who do receive it with open hearts, like the little children. Jesus will pick us up in his arms, lays his hands on us and bless us. The question is, are we childlike or childish?
Fr Warner D’Souza
With inputs from the JBC
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