Gospel: MK 9:30-37
Jesus and his disciples left from there and began a journey through Galilee,
but he did not wish anyone to know about it.
He was teaching his disciples and telling them,
“The Son of Man is to be handed over to men
and they will kill him,
and three days after his death the Son of Man will rise.”
But they did not understand the saying,
and they were afraid to question him.
They came to Capernaum and, once inside the house,
he began to ask them,
“What were you arguing about on the way?”
But they remained silent.
They had been discussing among themselves on the way
who was the greatest.
Then he sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them,
“If anyone wishes to be first,
he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.”
Taking a child, he placed it in their midst,
and putting his arms around it, he said to them,
“Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me;
and whoever receives me,
receives not me but the One who sent me.”
+Breathe in me O Holy Spirit that my thoughts may all be holy, Act in me O Holy Spirit, that my work too may be holy, Draw my heart O Holy Spirit, that I love but what is holy, Strengthen me O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy, Guard me then O Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy.” (St Augustine)
“Taking a child, He placed it in their midst”… It must have been quite striking! In the middle of their conversation, which up until now, had been between a group of men, rather rough and rugged speaking with our Lord. And now a child is introduced into the moment and conversation. Can you picture the disciples faces at this point? How everything they were talking about, and arguing about earlier, now seems so insignificant. The one who is brought before them (the child) in no way poses a threat, in other words, there is not competition felt here and so their hearts relax and open up to the Word our Lord is speaking to them.
Here is the ‘Icon’ being introduced, the Image of spiritual greatness.
How perplexed they must have felt or at least utterly disarmed. Look in their faces and now try to look into Jesus eyes, look at the tenderness, peace and love in his face and his manner with the child. How He places His arm tenderly around this child. It must have been striking not only from their standpoint, but also from the child’s point of view, to be shown such love and respect. The child must have wanted to linger close to Jesus, to absorb the Love that was so Present. Place yourself in the midst of this scene. Be with the disciples, or be in the child’s shoes, or be an onlooker. In this action what is Jesus doing and saying to us? Look upon the child, what is great in him? What are some beautiful attributes in a child? In putting his arm around the child, our Lord spoke volumes. He is showing us what is great in His eyes, worthy of imitation. The image before us, is the image of the form we are to take, the interior disposition we are meant to grow into. And that disposition of heart, what are some of the characteristics? To name a few: Total Trust, Docility to His lead, simplicity and humility wiling to be led perhaps in directions I am not sure I want to go. The image is a reflection of Christ Himself. The characteristics are the virtues of the heart of Christ Himself, the eternal Son, the eternal Child of His Heavenly Father. Ask Jesus, He will teach us too how to be children of His heavenly Father.
Do I truly desire greatness, that greatness of soul: magnanimity? How does Jesus’ revelation of greatness differ from my human conception of it. Do I desire the greatness of a child? Ask Jesus to stir a deepening of this desire.
+ “Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto Thine.”