Gospel of Mark 9:30-37
Anyone who welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me
Jesus and his disciples made their way through Galilee; and he did not want anyone to know, because he was instructing his disciples; he was telling them, ‘The Son of Man will be delivered into the hands of people; they will put him to death; and three days after he has been put to death he will rise again.’ But they did not understand what he said and were afraid to ask him.
They came to Capernaum, and when he was in the house he asked them, ‘What were you arguing about on the road?’ They said nothing because they had been arguing which of them was the greatest. So he sat down, called the Twelve to him and said, ‘If anyone wants to be first, they must make themselves last of all and servant of all.’ He then took a little child, set him in front of them, put his arms round the child, and said to them, ‘Anyone who welcomes one of these little children in my name, welcomes me; and anyone who welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.’
In my prayer I try to enter the scene and imagine participating in this Gospel.
I find myself uncomfortable with the argument happening on the road between the disciples. I don’t like arguments or anger. However, I am aware of the anxiety and fear hanging about in the atmosphere. Jesus has been sharing such a frightening reality – he will be put to death. The disciples are afraid to ask him more about it. Perhaps none of us really wants to know this reality. It seems too hard to understand.
It also seems to be such a normal human reaction – to avoid and defend ourselves from discomfort.
I like Jesus response. He perceives what is happening, asks, us about it and dispels our anger and fear with gentleness. Inviting us to let go of our defences and egos and become vulnerable like little children.
This gentleness is disarming. It is the contrary of building up walls and bravado which in reality is a false sense of security anyway and not the path of love.
I pray for the gift of welcoming gentleness in the face of fear and anxiety. Jesus’ Spirit of Welcoming gentleness is desperately needed in our beautiful but troubled world today.