Childlike or childish? Saturday, 7th Week in ordinary time- Mk 10:13-16
Good news spreads fast! Word had spread that the Rabbi from Galilee who teaches with authority and casts out evil spirits has now reached Judea. He has already gained a reputation of being different and unlike the Rabbis of His time, He considers little children to be as important in His ministry as do the adults. He has already placed a little child in their midst as an example of what leadership ought to be. This Rabbi is clearly different; He has affirmed the bond of marriage and now the parents come with their children to Him.
Yet the understanding of the kingdom is slow to come to those who are closest to Jesus, His own apostles. Twice before He was compelled to correct His disciple’s views on power and authority stressing the role of servant leadership and now He has to reprimand them again. All that the parents wanted for their children was to get a blessing from the Rabbi, which was a common practice at that time. He was shocked at the stern behaviour of his apostles towards the parents and children.
The word used to describe Jesus’ reaction to what he saw was, ‘indignant’; He was not disappointed or upset He was more than that, He was mad. The humble Jesus meek and mild had now turned into the angry Jesus now all riled. He wants the children to be brought to him for it is to such that the kingdom belongs. It is here that Jesus once again seizes the opportunity to teach his disciples an eternal truth about how one approaches the kingdom.
Jesus wants them to know that faith in Him was not optional, it is essential but what stands out is the disposition that accompanies such faith. Such a disposition is reflected in the spontaneity of these children; this is the only way to enter into the kingdom. The children have nothing to offer in return for the blessing they seek and yet they come in faith. ‘Only those who accept and receive faith as a gift like a child does, truly receives it and can expect to be part of God’s kingdom’. (JBC)
There is a difference in approaching faith with a childlike attitude or with a childish attitude. Unfortunately many of us are stuck in a childish mould when it comes to the faith (read faith related matters) for it appears from our behaviour, that we are not ready for solids. Tantrums are thrown over who sits where in Church, who drapes the statues of the Blessed Virgin, how money should be spent on programmes or some mundane matters. These take centre stage ‘in the kingdom’ while the mandate of Christ to introduce people to Him is lost. (Not to be read as conversion but evangelization).
Fr Warner D’Souza
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