Dispatch Two Hundred Seventy-One

Posted: January 5, 2018 in Fifty-Second Bundle
Tags: , , , , ,

MARK 9:30-37

30 They went on from there and passed through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know it; 31 for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again.” 32 But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him.

33 Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” 34 But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest. 35 He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” 36 Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”

We recall that Jesus used different strategies in communicating his gospel, depending on what could motivate his audience to live more kindly toward others and more conscious of the longer view of things. Some were treasure-motivated: they were looking for happiness in what can be possessed.

Others were recognition-motivated: they were needing to know that their worth as persons was acknowledged and sustained in the pleased or envious approval of others (and God counts as an other as well, by the way).

And finally a small minority were what we might call fulfillment-motivated: these are not overly self-interested individuals, but are in fact progressing beyond the ego in giving themselves with full commitment to the realization of God’s kingdom on earth. They have grasped Jesus’ vision of the (future yet presently arriving) spiritual community of compassion, justice, peace, forgiveness, and inclusive love. And they work to see it fulfilled.

Although Jesus appears to play into the position-seeking ambitions of his disciples by telling them what they need to do in order to be first and greatest of all, what he does next opens the gate to higher awareness. He takes a child and places her in their midst. “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me,” he says.

Children are not typically sought out for their appraisals on the adult world. They don’t have a grasp on the social game of titles and degrees and reputations and hierarchies. To welcome a child you must be able to put aside your need for reward and glory and be willing to come down to the level of simple innocence, into a vulnerable trust.

That’s where real life is found.

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