27th Sunday in Ordinary Time
People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them. (Mark 10.13-16)
Like last week, our Gospel refers to the young child as a model for Christian discipleship. What is it in particular that we should be emulating? Perhaps the dependance, the trust, or the innocence – these are most admirable traits. In some ways, they are innately human, our ‘default setting’. It is unfortunate, but it seems we un-learn them as we grow older to defend ourselves from the world, from sin. We intentionally distance ourselves from our humanity in our day-to-day. We are taught not to trust in others, lest we be let down. We are taught to be independent, to be an island of certitude and conviction, able to overcome any obstacle.
In times of great struggle, such as illness or death, we rediscover our need for connection, for dependance, for trust. These moments can be immensely powerful, healing rifts in families divided, bringing closure to chapters of our lives or reconnecting with those from distant places.
One cannot help but wonder if these tremendously powerful human moments are also divine. It is in Christ’s humanity that we find his true divinity, the thing that makes this all so remarkable: the incarnation. Perhaps we see a glimpse of this too in children, pure and innocent.
I am reminded of a verse from the Christmas hymn Once in Royal David’s City (this hymn speaks specifically of Christ as a child).
For He is our childhood’s pattern;
Day by day, like us, He grew;
He was little, weak, and helpless,
Tears and smiles, like us He knew;
And He cares when we are sad,
And he shares when we are glad.