Two things come up in the Gospel of this Sunday. The question of divorce and remarriage and becoming as a child. For the sake of brevity the first part of the Gospel only may be read for today. However, Jesus is telling us that the kingdom of heaven is open to those who are child-like and trustful.
This is a meditation on this Gospel from one of my sisters:
“. . . the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”
Children. To us, children are lovable (most of the time), and bring smiles to our faces as we play with them, or watch them at their games, or even put up with their tantrums. We put children first, denying ourselves what we need to make sure a child is provided for. In Jesus’ day, however, children were last. Sixty percent of children never reached adulthood. During their minor years they were on the same level as slaves. So when Jesus puts his arms around the children in a protective hug, he is sending a counter-cultural message. “This is what you can have if you live in the dependence of a child, counting solely on God for everything you need: intimacy with God, protection, safety, someone to look after you. This is the way I live with the Father, and I am inviting you to do the same.”
It is significant that this story follows upon that of the Pharisees testing Jesus, trying to trip him up, refusing to believe unless he meets criteria. A child would never do that. Today we can’t “catch” Jesus in conversation and turn him into the authorities, but we can certainly fall into the second trap. How many refuse to follow Jesus’ teaching because it doesn’t fit their idea of what should be right and wrong? We, too, can be hard of heart in front of the law of God: the invitation to and promise of faithfulness in covenantal love represented in the covenantal fidelity of marriage.
Jesus certainly raises the bar in this section of Mark’s Gospel. It is surely difficult to be faithful to discipleship to Christ in the Church. I don’t think it was meant to be easy. I have seen struggling people, people in broken marriages, honest sinners who are inescapably dependent on God’s love and mercy in difficult situations. Though they have fallen short in keeping the law, they are “children,” and thus warmly embraced by Jesus.
If you have enjoyed this meditation, you’ll find meditations on all the Gospels in the Ordinary Grace series Ordinary Grace Weeks 18-34