Saturday, March 2, 2019
1) Opening prayer
keep before us the wisdom and love
You have revealed in Your Son.
Help us to be like Him
in word and deed,
for He lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
2) Gospel Reading - Mark 10:13-16
People were bringing children to Jesus that he might touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this he became indignant and said to them, "Let the children come to me; do not prevent them, for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the Kingdom of God like a child will not enter it." Then he embraced the children and blessed them, placing his hands on them.
• The Gospel of two days ago indicated the advice of Jesus concerning the relationship of the adults with little ones and with the excluded (Mk 9:41-50). Yesterday’s Gospel indicated the advice on the relationship between man and woman, husband and wife (Mk 10:1-12). Today’s Gospel indicates the advice on the relationship between parents and sons. Jesus asked for the greatest acceptance for the little ones and the excluded. In the relationship man-woman, He asked for the greatest equality. Now, with the sons and their mother, He asks for the greatest tenderness.
• Mark 10:13-16: Receive the Kingdom like a child. People brought little children to Him, for Him to touch them. The disciples wanted to prevent this. Why? The text does not say it. Perhaps because according to the ritual norms of the time, the small children with their mothers lived almost constantly the legal impurity. To touch them meant to become impure! If they touched Jesus, He would become impure! But Jesus does not feel uncomfortable with this ritual norm of legal purity. He corrects the disciples and welcomes the mothers with the children. He touches them, embraces them saying: “Let the little children come to me, do not stop them: for it is to such as these that the Kingdom of God belongs”. And He comments: “In truth I tell you, anyone who does not accept the Kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it”. And then Jesus embraces the children and blesses them, and laid His hands on them. What does this phrase mean? (a) The children receive everything from their parents. They cannot merit what they receive, but live from gratuitous love. (b) The parents receive the children as a gift from God and take care of them with the greatest possible love. The concern of the parents is not to dominate the children, but to love them, educate them in a way in which they can grow and be fulfilled! This is the relationship we have with our Father in Heaven! We must be just like these children.
• A sign of the Kingdom: To welcome the little ones and the excluded. There are many signs of the acting presence of the Kingdom in the life and the activity of Jesus. One of these is the way of welcoming, of accepting the little ones and the children:
a) To welcome them and not scandalize them. One of the hardest words of Jesus was against those who cause scandal to the little ones, that is, who are the reason so that the little ones no longer believe in God. For them it is better to have a millstone hung round their neck and be thrown into the sea (Mk 9:42; Lk 17:2; Mt 18:6).
b) To identify oneself with the little ones. Jesus embraces the little ones and identifies Himself with them. Anyone who receives a child, “receives Me” (Mk 9:37). “And as long as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to Me”. (Mt 25:40).
c) To become like children. Jesus asks the disciples to become like children and to accept the Kingdom as they do. Otherwise it is not possible to enter into the Kingdom (Mk 10:15; Mt 18:3; Lk 9:46-48). He makes the children teachers of adults! And that is not normal. Generally, we do the contrary.
d) To defend the right that children have to shout and yell. When Jesus, entering into the Temple, turned over the tables of the money changers, the children were those who shouted the most: “Hosanna to the Son of David!” (Mt 21:15). Criticized by the high priests and by the Scribes, Jesus defends them and in defending them He recalls the Scriptures (Mt 21:16).
e) To be pleasing for the Kingdom present in little children. Jesus’ joy is great, when He perceives that the children, the little ones, understand the things of the Kingdom which He announced to the people“. “I bless you, Father!” (Mt 11:25-26). Jesus recognizes that the little ones understand the things of the Kingdom better than the doctors!
f) To welcome, accept and take care. Many are the little children and the young whom Jesus accepts, takes care of and raises from the death: the daughter of Jairus who was 12 years old (Mk 5:41-42), the daughter of the Canaanite woman (Mk 7:29-30), the son of the widow of Nain (Lk 7:14-15), the epileptic boy (Mk 9:25-26), the son of the Centurion (Lk 7:9-10), the son of the public officer (Jn 4:50), the boy with the five loaves of bread and two fish (Jn 6:9).
4) Personal questions
• In our society and in our community, who are the little ones and the excluded? How do we welcome and accept them?
• What have I learned in my life from children concerning the Kingdom of God?
• There are so many ways modern adults are not like children. What can I do to become more child-like for the Father and in relation to my peers; imitative, obedient, humble, grateful, innocent? Do I even want to?
• I place myself as innocent, obedient, humble, and grateful into my world of friends, my business, recreation and my responsibilities. What happens? How am I perceived by the world around me? If I continue to be this way, how would this make a better world?
5) Concluding Prayer
Yahweh, I am calling, hurry to Me,
listen to my voice when I call to You.
May my prayer be like incense in Your presence,
my uplifted hands like the evening sacrifice. (Ps 141:1-2)