Welcoming the little ones
The story seems insignificant. However, it contains an undertone of great importance for Jesus’ followers. According to Mark’s version, people try to bring to Jesus some children who are there running around. What they want is simply for that man of God to touch the children so that he may communicate to them some of his power and his life. It was apparently a popular belief.
The disciples are bothered and try to stop them. They attempt to put up a fence around Jesus. They attribute to themselves the power to decide who can get to Jesus and who cannot. They put themselves between him and those who are the smallest, weakest and neediest of that society. Instead of facilitating their access to Jesus, they hinder it.
They have already forgotten what Jesus did just a few days before, when he put a child in the midst of the group to teach them that it is the little ones who should be the center of his disciples’ attention and concern. They have forgotten how he embraced that child in front of everyone, inviting them to welcome children in his name and with his very affection.
Jesus becomes indignant. Such behavior on his disciples’ part is intolerable. Angry, he gives two orders: Let the little children come to me; do not stop them. Who has taught them to act in such a way so contrary to his Spirit? It is precisely the little ones, the weak and the defenseless who should be the first to have open access to Jesus.
The reason is very profound since it obeys the Father’s designs: The kingdom of God belongs to such these. In God’s kingdom and in Jesus’ group the bothersome are not the little ones, but the great and powerful people, those who want to dominate and be first.
The center of his community must not be occupied by strong and powerful people who impose on others from above. In his community there is need for men and women who seek the last place in order to welcome, serve, embrace and bless those who are the weakest and neediest.
God’s kingdom spreads not out of the imposition by the high and mighty, but out of the acceptance and defense of the little ones. Where these become the center of attention and concern, there the kingdom of God, the human society that the Father wants, arrives.
October 4, 2015
27 Ordinary Time (B)
Mark 10, 2-16