This Sunday we have the second prophecy of Jesus concerning his suffering, death and resurrection. What he was telling his disciples seemed to go over their heads.
Mark relates that they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him what he meant. Instead they were having was argument among themselves about who is the greatest. Their minds were preoccupied with the desire for power and self-assertion.
What Jesus was offering was a new way of being a disciple – the way of service. Jesus is saying that you can only rule and govern through a life of service. What Jesus is doing is redefining power and greatness through his call to rule and govern through service. He called the disciples to give and give generously.
The Greek word used for service is diakoneo, which has the connotation of service of love. Jesus then places a child in the midst of the disciples to shift their focus of attention.
Jesus says, “I do not want you to be concerned with the greatest among you but rather the least and most humble members of the community.”
Today the status of children is very different. Today we have a child-centered approach, in education and family life. This will always put the child at the centre of the learning process and meet the needs of each individual child. This means looking at things from the child’s perspective, allowing them to participate in planning activities and events within the society.
A central focus on the child can involve looking at the child’s interests and the experiences they’ve already received, and listening to their ideas. The children will then become part of the planning. The childcare worker’s role is to give the children choices. This is a basis to ensure that the child develops independently to be able to form their own opinion.
At the time of Jesus things were very different, the child was the “last of all.” In ancient society children were viewed as non-persons who had no legal rights or status of their own. So, by putting the child in their midst, Jesus was calling his disciples and us to have a new esteem and responsibility toward those who seem most helpless or inconsequential. Jesus was saying “To receive a little one is to accept, lovingly serve, and care for those who most need it and cannot repay it.”
We are called to welcome a person for the sake of Jesus and in deference to him. Jesus identifies with those who are most insignificant in the eyes of the world.
We need to ask ourselves today: “Who are the most insignificant in the eyes of the world. Do I identify with them?”