Sunday, 23 September 2018

Childlike, 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

Mk 9:30-37
Today I’d like us to reflect on what it is that the Lord Jesus meant by placing children before us as role models.
There are, in fact, multiple occasions when the Lord placed children before us:
The Lord “blessed” the little children that came to Him (Mk 10:16);
He said we must “change” and become like little children (Mt 18:3) saying we must “humble [ourselves] like little children”(ibid);
But it is probably here in this passage that the REASON to be like a child is clearest:
the question of greatness.

Greatness came a question in the Gospel text because the 12 apostles were arguing about which of them was the greatest.
Was it John -the Beloved, or Andrew -who brought the loaves and fishes to Jesus, or Philip who was trusted to calculate that it would take 100 denarii to feed the 5000, or James -who was related to Jesus, or Judas -who was in charge of the money?
We can imagine how the conversation might have gone.

It seems to me that there are two ways that we can think of ourselves as great, and children show us the opposite in each case.

The first is we can think of ourselves as great in terms of telling other people what to do.
Children, though they might frequently complain about it, children are used to being told what to do:
tidy your room, do your homework, eat your greens.
This, the Lord is saying, is an attitude WE need to have:
we need to expect others to tell us what to do, we need to be OK with being, as He put it, “last of all and SERVANT of all”(Mk 9:35)
-the servant is one who is told what to do.
In contrast, the “great’ man thinks he can tell everyone else what to do.

A second way we can think of ourselves as great:
having everything I need,
being self-sufficient and strong,
not needing anyone’s help.
Children, in contrast, know they are in need:
I want ice cream, I want that toy car, and want to be taken to the beach
-children know they are in need,
and they look to adults to fulfil their needs.
We, the Lord, the Lord is saying, we need something of this same attitude:
We need the humility to place ourselves before God and call on His help.

I need the Lord:
I need His strength, because often my weakness becomes apparent to me.
I need His guidance, because often my ignorance and stupidity are brutally put before me.
I need His forgiveness, for my sins, my many sins.

A child knows that he is in need;
A child knows he’s not in charge;
A child knows he is little.
We need to know the same.

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