He left that place and went to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan. And crowds again gathered around him; and, as was his custom, he again taught them. Some Pharisees came, and to test him they asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her.” But Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you. But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Then in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.” People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.
Have you ever asked yourself why the “gatekeeper-disciples” would prevent children from approaching Jesus? In addition to burnishing their own sense of importance, it seems they deem the children just a bunch of noisy kids. After all, children can’t join their cause or support it financially, are too young to evangelize their neighbors and hold no status or significance in the Roman empire. They’re good for nothing except wasting their master’s time…right? Nope! Once again his inner circle has missed the point, and Jesus is indignant.
Time and again throughout the Old and New Testaments, God gives power and wisdom to the young. Joseph. Samuel. David. Josiah. Daniel. Mother (to be) Mary. And, of course, Jesus, who is teaching in the temple at the age of 12. Generations of children are part of the covenant made to Abraham and his offspring, and several psalms glorify children, especially 127: 3: “Don’t you see that children are God’s best gift; the fruit of the womb his generous legacy?” Jesus makes it clear that in God’s kingdom, status and significance are not born of wealth, power, influence, or age.
Love of neighbor includes even our own sour, indifferent teenagers! This scripture tells us jaded old folk that we need an attitude adjustment. It is never too late to surrender to childlike joy and wonder for our faith. It is never too late to place in God the kind of unconditional, unjaded trust a child places in a parent. Let us work on shedding our crusty exteriors and interiors and on offering glimpses of God’s Kingdom to one another in the same joyful and unselfconscious way children do.
Hug O’ War by Shel Silverstein: I will not play at tug o’ war. I’d rather play at hug o’ war, Where everyone hugs instead of tugs, Where everyone giggles and rolls on the rug. Where everyone kisses, and everyone grains, and everyone cuddles, and everyone wins.