The story seems insignificant. However it contains an undertone of great importance for Jesus’ followers. According to Mark’s version, people tried to bring to Jesus some children who are there running around. The only thing they’re looking for is that such a man of God could touch them in order to communicate to them some of his power and his life. Seemingly it was a popular belief.
The disciples are bothered and try to stop them. They want to put up a fence all around Jesus. They give themselves the power to decide who can get to Jesus and who can’t. They put themselves between him and those who are the smallest, weakest and most in need of that society. Instead of opening a door to Jesus, they close it.
They’ve already forgotten what Jesus did just a few days before, when he put a child in the midst of the group to teach them that it is the little ones who should be the center of his disciples’ attention and care. They’ve forgotten how he embraced that child right there in front of everyone, inviting them to welcome such in his name and with his same affection.
Jesus gets upset. Such behavior on his disciples’ part is intolerable. Indignant, he gives two commands: «Let the little children come to me; do not stop them». Who has taught them to act in such a way so contrary to his Spirit? It is precisely the little ones, the weak and the defenseless who should be the first to be given open access to Jesus.
The reason for this is very profound since it obeys the Father’s plans: «It is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs». In God’s reign and in Jesus group those who bother us aren’t the little ones, but the great and powerful ones, those who want to dominate and be first.
The center of his community shouldn’t be occupied by strong and powerful people who impose themselves on others from above. In his community we need men and women who seek the last place in order to welcome, serve, embrace and bless those who are the weakest and most in need.
God’s reign isn’t spread by the imposition of the high and mighty, but from the welcoming and defense of the little ones. Where these become the center of attention and care, there arrives God’s reign, the human society that the Father wants.
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf