Year B: 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time
The Gospel: Mark 10: 2-16
Today’s Gospel again presents us with two themes: the sacred dimension to marriage and the attitude with which to approach the Kingdom. The first is taken up in the First Reading and so in this article we concentrate on the second.
It could be useful to imagine the setting in which Jesus calls the little children to himself. He has just had an encounter with the Pharisees enquiring about details of the Law governing marriage - and gone on to explore that further with the disciples.
Jesus tries to take his questioners beyond the letter of the Law - with its human interpretations - to the spirit in which it was given. The basic law from the beginning, he says, is that humankind was created in the image of God and that, in marriage, a man and woman have an equality and create a fullness that neither can achieve on their own. Because this was not always convenient, new laws had been implemented which offered a way out of it - at least, for one party.
Discussion of the details of such laws was seen as a sign of intelligence - but intelligent questioning then implies intelligent response to the answers. Despite what they had just heard, the disciples did not translate it into action. As far as they were concerned, the children and their carers were not as important as they were and should not be allowed to disturb the Master.
Jesus is indignant that they have not understood what he was saying. For him, the women and children had as much right to see him as those who saw themselves as more important. In fact, he points to the children gathered around him and says that they are the example the self-important should emulate. Young children (generally!) accept the rules of living without quibbling about every detail. They are open to the love of their parents and know that rules are imposed for their well-being - even if they do not fully understand them.
Such simplicity and trust should characterise those to whom the Kingdom belongs. There will always be things that we do not understand and it is right to question and reflect on such issues. It should, however, be done in the spirit of the child and an acceptance that the Kingdom goes beyond human law and understanding and can only be welcomed as an unmerited gift from a loving Father.
What does it mean for me?
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