I’ve always loved today’s Gospel, and I like to give my imagination lots of room to run as I visualize what it must have been like to be one of the children with Jesus that day.
Most commentaries focus on the seriousness of what Jesus is trying to teach the Big People who are also there. I don’t believe the disciples were shooing the children (and their parents) away to be mean. There had been so many demands on Jesus’ time and energy, with people crowding around every minute. I think they just wanted to give Jesus a chance to rest quietly alone.
Jesus is pretty blunt in telling them that they’re mistaken and that the Kingdom belongs to children like these. Here most commentaries interpret Jesus most seriously, focusing on essentials like trust, humility, and the realization of our utter dependence on God. Those are important qualities that we should all be cultivating.
However, I think all this seriousness is missing the other vital qualities that children have. One of these is the ability to be spontaneous, to live in the present moment. Hurts are quickly forgotten, what’s important is now. Now is all we Big People have too.
Another quality we should seek is the child’s abundant joyfulness. Don’t we always laugh when we hear a child laugh, and enter fully into that laughter with them? How much more deeply does Jesus enter into and share our joy with us!
Also missing from the picture is Jesus’ reaction to the children present in this story. We know from Mark’s other stories that Jesus stopped whatever He was doing to focus solely on whoever came to Him for help. To me, it makes sense to think that Jesus would have been as deeply focused on each child as He had been on each adult. The difference between the children and the adults would have been that the children accepted Him for who He was, not what they wanted Him to be. I don’t think they had any grand ideas of a political Messiah the way adults did.
And that may be the key here. Yes, be humble as a child and rely on our heavenly parent for everything. But more importantly, accept Jesus for who He is, not what He can do for you. Live in the moment, enjoy His presence and His company, and know that He delights in you as His very own child.
Copyright 2014, Carol Ann Chybowski