Yesterday the gospel writer shared about Jesus climbing the Mount of Transfiguration with disciples Peter, James and John. Jesus now leaves his ministry in Galilee and turns to Jerusalem and the cross. Between Mark 9, yesterday, and Mark 14, Ash Wednesday, we read chapters telling of more healings, more exorcisms, more conflicts with religious authorities. I want to focus on two scenes that have deeply impacted the development of Christianity and my understanding of the spiritual life.
Mark 10: 13-16 tells us, “People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them.” This is not a scene of illness or evil. This is different. People asked the rabbis to bless their children, parents want their children blessed. The disciples, focusing on sharing the “good news” and faith as a cognitive gathering of information were off base. If faith is measured by our academic ability to memorize Scripture or our disciplined will to follow Scripture, we are in trouble. Jesus responds, “Let the little children come tome and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Whew, a child’s innocent trust, brought not begging, not really understanding but cooperating – become a new image.
How many times do we think we can’t try something because we are not experts like our religious leaders? How many times do we condemn ourselves for being toddlers in our faith? How many times do we feel guilty for wanting to snuggle with our God rather than come to him with an eloquent question? Perhaps today you are exhausted from worrying about Covid, exhausted from the unending wrangling and arguments about the impeachment, drained from trying to balance the budget and afraid to go to the store or meet with friends. We are living in challenging times but this scene of Jesus welcoming little children brought to him comforts our weary souls. “Come unto me all ye who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” When we feel so small and insignificant, Jesus has time to open his arms to us and we can climb on his lap. Thank you Lord for welcoming children – and me!