Friday, October 2, 2009

Like a Child

Reflections on the Readings
Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time - October 4, 2009
Eighteenth Sunday After Pentecost - Year B
By Dennis Hankins

And they were bringing children to him, that he might touch them; and the disciples rebuked them. (Mark 10:13)

Is it possible to have a personal, childlike relationship with Jesus?

Apparently the moms and dads bringing their children to meet Jesus thought so!  We are not told why the disciples were bothered about this or why they rebuked these parents.  However, their distress did not sit well with the Master.  And I must say, it still makes me bristle.  

Jesus wished to remain accessible and approachable. His life was an open door, an invitation to the burdened, lonely, weary souls of humanity.  Is there a friend like the lowly Jesus?  No not one, no not one, says the song.  

Yet the business model, the creepy corporate coldness of the world of commerce is too often the way of the Church.  The idea to make a friend, to be a friend, to bring a friend to Christ and his Church speaks of bridge building, interest in another, being the face of Jesus. 

Jesus had strong words for his associates.  He was indignant.  

Once, when they were fearful he asked, "Why? Why are you afraid?"  

Another time, when the multitudes needed food, he said, "Feed them."  And they said, "How?  There's not enough money to buy the bread even if no one has seconds." 

On another occasion, they forbade a man to use the name of Jesus to cast out demons.  Jesus said, "Forbid him not!"

And when families were coming to have their children touched and blessed by Jesus, they expressed sharp disapproval.  At this, Jesus became displeased.  In fact, he told them to get out of the way and let the children come to him.  There were a few red faces.  Jesus continued,"For to such belongs the kingdom of God.  Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it."  And with an exuberance resembling the camaraderie found on a playground, Jesus swept up the children into his arms made strong by years of carpentry work and laid his hands on them and blessed them.

I know of a woman preparing for her first confession.  All things that were second nature to a cradle Catholic were new to her.  Having carefully read a guide to examine her own conscience and making notes to help her make a good confession, she waited patiently in line on that Good Friday afternoon for her turn to meet with the priest.  

Coming out of the confessional and wiping the tears from her eyes she knelt to follow the penance the compassionate priest had given her.  As she was leaving the area and walking back toward the waiting line, imagine her surprise when a lady stopped her and scolded her for taking so much time in the confessional and instructed her that in the future if she needed a long time in the confessional that she should perhaps call and make an appointment.

She was shocked.  I think Jesus wept.  

She was being swept up like a child into the arms of Jesus who was welcoming her into the fullness of his Church.  And one impatient lady rebuked this convert, and that while waiting  to see the priest to make her Easter confession.

In time the disciples would learn to know and trust Jesus like a child knows and trusts his mommy and daddy.  At the last supper, Jesus consecrated himself to his passion, gave himself as bread and wine to his disciples whereby they grew closer to their Master and to each other.

Prayerfully may we all embrace him and one another, not just in our head but in a personal way, with our heart, the heart of a child.

Let us pray: Dear Father, may I have the heart of a child,  like a child  trusting you, like a child loving you.  Through him who took up the children in his arms and by the Holy Spirit, who perfects praise in the mouths of infants, be glory and praise and honor and blessing to you O' Lord, now and forever. Amen.   

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