“Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the Kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Mt 19:14).
Again we see the disciples refusing access to Jesus. The scriptures are not clear why they are consistent in acting in this way. We see them doing so with the blind man Bartimaeus, the tax collector Zacchaeus, and the Canaanite woman. In today’s reading, they are refusing access to children. The consistent characteristic of each who are being refused is that they are considered to be on the periphery of Jewish society.
Children, paidia in Greek, especially so. Paidia could represent a child from infancy to twelve years of age. In ancient Palestine, children were particularly vulnerable, had no status and were completely dependent on their family for survival. Luke goes even further than Mark and Matthew by using, brephē, meaning infant, to describe the children. It is to these children and infants that Jesus states the Kingdom of heaven belongs.
Jesus is consistent in his ministry of paying particular interest to the individual person. He welcomes the children and blesses each one of them. Jesus continually acknowledges and affirms the dignity of each person he meets, especially those neglected and ignored. Those who have been on the periphery, those who have been on the other side of the glass looking in, Jesus gives admittance to. Jesus bridges the divide of separation through his healing touch.
To enter the Kingdom of heaven, we must be willing to trust and accept Jesus’ invitation. We must place, like children, even more so, as infants, our total dependence on him, not on our own initiative or effort alone. There is nothing we can do to earn our way into heaven. Entrance into the Kingdom of heaven is a free gift of God’s grace. We just need the humility and the recognition of our dependency on God to accept the invitation. God must be the total center of our life.
Photo of Jesus with children accessed from turnbacktogod.com
Link for the Mass readings for Saturday, August 18, 2018: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/081818.cfm