Saturday, February 25, 2017

He Became Indignant

He has set before them knowledge, a law of life as their inheritance; An everlasting covenant he has made with them, his justice and his judgments he has revealed to them. His majestic glory their eyes beheld, his glorious voice their ears heard. Sirach 17:11-13

When Jesus saw this he became indignant and said to them, "Let the children come to me; do not prevent them, for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the Kingdom of God like a child will not enter it." Mark 10:14-15

God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
As it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
If I surrender to His Will;
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life
And supremely happy with Him
Forever and ever in the next. Amen.
(Reinhold Niebuhr, 1892-1971)

The wisdom of Ben Sirach reminds us of the glory of our own creation – and how that is mirrored in every other living creature.  However, despite these divine origins, we continue to err in our ways and have to constantly be brought back to the right path. Take the mistake that the disciples make in today’s Good News…

Certainly, the disciples meant well by trying to get the children to stop bothering Jesus. Jesus had more important tasks such as debating the Pharisees about points of Mosaic Law. Jesus had just finished setting them straight on marriage and divorce and adultery. Fresh from that debate, the disciples thought that Jesus did not need to be bothered any further.  Children, after all, were the most powerless group in all the land. They had less power than the poor, the widows, the orphans and the sick. There was no advocate for them.

Jesus does not react to these situations in “serenity.” This image of powerless children is another one that Jesus turns upside-down – and he did not do it gently. “He became indignant.” Remember, indignancy is not just anger or annoyance. That emotion has to be connected with or directed to what is perceived as unfair treatment of another person.

After all, God chose the form of a powerless child as the vehicle to come into the world. If the body of a child was good enough for God, who could keep these children from Jesus?

The basis of the covenant “with every living creature” is to accept all people – strangers and those with the least money, power and influence -- and serve them in the spirit of Matthew 25:40. Our relationships with them must be marked by love, solidarity, and hope. Embracing the powerless children, widows, and lepers is the ultimate example Jesus gives to us – even embracing the thief on the cross. 

What hardships suffered in the world would make you indignant?  What unfair treatment of another will spur you to action?  

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