24th Sunday in Ordinary Time B
In this Sunday’s Gospel Jesus challenges the disciples – and therefore us also – to welcome the children and accept them and so doing they, and we, welcome Jesus.
The story starts off in a way that is, perhaps, a bit worrying or disconcerting for the disciples as Jesus once again talks about being handed over, put to death, and rising again. You would think by now that the disciples would have got the message – it is dangerous to be a follower of Jesus – and yet they still did not understand. He tries a different tack and asks them what was going on as they walked along. A bit shamefaced at first I imagine, they say nothing because they had been arguing about who was the greatest. How did Jesus feel at this point? Exasperated, angry, did He feel like giving up, or ‘here we go again!’? Instead He uses it as another lesson for them. He is such a fabulous teacher – when one way doesn’t work, try something else until you get your message/ your teaching point across. So He brings a child forward.
What does Jesus see when He looks at a child? Someone who trusts, who can’t resort to ‘power tactics’ as one writer calls it. He sees someone open to new things, to change, to adventure, to acceptance of others. He also sees someone who is vulnerable – probably, ironically, because of all the above. As adults we have a responsibility to young people because we are in a position of trust. However, here we are not just talking about others but also about ourselves. We have to be open to new things, to change, to adventure, to acceptance of others – and most of all we have to be open to Jesus.
Just as Jesus in this Gospel shows His vulnerability to His disciples so we see the vulnerability of others as well as our own. It’s hard to rely on others, it’s hard to put our faith in Jesus – and rightly so because we can easily remember what happened to Him and His followers – but it is the only thing we can do. Jesus welcomes each one of us just as He welcomed each person He met when He walked the roads over 2,000 years ago. Today, this weekend, let us give Him our vulnerability, our childlikeness and once more feel the arms of Jesus around us.
Sr. Margaret Mattison