Sunday, 23 September 2012

Children of God

 Sunday GospelMark 9:30-37 

After leaving the mountain 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 men; 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, he must make himself last of all and servant of all.’ He then took a little child, set him in front of them, put his arms round him, 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.’

The mountain is the mountain where the Transfiguration took place. Only a short time ago Jesus was in the company of the fathers,  blessed by his Divine Father and filled with the light of heaven. Surely the disciples had been suitably awe-struck by Peter, James and John's account as they walked the road. Now as the mountain fades into a distant purple haze, a different type of confusion has come over them.. How could this divine Son be talking about failure and death? Why are they heading towards the place where it will happen? What is he expecting them to do about it?

How do they deal with difficult questions that they don't want answers to? They simply don't ask them. Too afraid to hear an unwelcome truth, they distract themselves entirely with this talk of victory and status.

When we see God threatening to move us out of our comfort zone we may hang back from allowing him into our lives. We may sit in the 'back seats' of our faith life without engaging with what we are called to do.

Even as disciples we have our limits - this far and no further - and then look to reward ourselves for living within those limits.  We imagine ourselves as adults - surely we already have authority and status? We readily argue rights and wrongs amongst ourselves without even involving God. We fail to give God the opportunity to be the God we need rather than the one we want.

The 'manly' thing to do perhaps would be to challenge them face to face; to shout them down; to demand an answer, an apology even. Jesus is cannier than this; he calls them to remember who he is. He is the 'great one' - the rabbi - and in the rabbinic tradition - the teacher sits whllst his followers stand to hear the words spoken in authority. The men stand in their position of humility - reminded of the servants that he calls them to be. Jesus then draws an image of the Kingdom to him; this little child - powerless and without authority yet with all the love that the Father can bestow on them.

 It is the powerless and the fragile that make up the Kingdom and whatever authority we believe we have, it is given to us to welcome such as these into our lives. To serve them as we serve God; with all our heart and all our soul and all our mind.  

And, also, to ask Jesus to guide us to the child that dwells in our own hearts.

In Jesus' name


1 comment:

Lynda said...

This is a very insightful statement: "We fail to give God the opportunity to be the God we need rather than the one we want." Often we ask God to remove a difficult situation rather than being grateful that God is there to walk through it with us.