Jesus teaches, yet again, that God looks at things differently than we do
Reflections on the readings for the Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time (October 3, 2021): GN 2:18-24; PS 128:1-2,3,4-5,6; HEB 2:9-11; MK 10:2-16
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"Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child* will not enter it.” (Mark 10:15)
In the Gospel for today, we once again find Jesus being tested by Pharisees who, sadly, were less interested in truth and wisdom than in tripping Him up. Here they ask if divorce is lawful, even though they know that it is according to Moses, as Jesus reminds them. But our Lord uses the opportunity to say this is so because of human weakness and that Almighty God intended the marriage bond to be a lasting one. And, in a society where men, unlike women, could easily get a divorce, leaving them to social and material suffering, this showed real respect and greater equality for women. Yet He is not finished. He has another lesson to teach.
We learn how Jesus views children. Again, His way is not that of so many people, then or now. When parents try to bring them closer so that He can touch and bless them, the disciples object. And Christ becomes indignant with His followers. This is the only time in the Gospels that He is described like that. He cherished these children for themselves. But He also uses this moment to teach their families, the rest of the crowd, and His disciples about themselves and their relationship with Almighty God. “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” (Mark 10:14-16). The adults must have been stunned at these words. These little ones had virtually no rights. What they thought or believed was unimportant. Yet, now this Preacher from Nazareth who spoke about mercy and forgiveness and who performed miracles was saying something new. The kingdom of God belongs to children and those like them. The crowd that day, especially His closest followers, must have wondered what He meant. Yet in children we find openness to the newness of life and the beauty of God’s world. They are also dependent – and know they are. Children must rely totally on God and those to whom He entrusts their care. Children have to be taught about rules and laws, but they already know about faith and hope and love. And that is just what we adults need to remember.