Genesis 2:18-24; Psalm 127; Hebrews 2:9-11; Mark 10:2-16
The child holds the key
Crying is the baby’s initial means of communication. Studies and experience show that there may be at least 6 more reasons aside from being hurt that a baby may cry: hunger, tiredness, over-stimulation (e.g. overwhelming colors, sound, etc), fear, colic or gassiness, or just needing a cuddle. An observant mother would be able to decipher specific reasons for specific types of crying. Small actions that go with the crying also give some necessary clues. But the real key to understanding is love and concern, love that is sensitive and considerate, love that respects and moves to action, love that simply acknowledges the presence and needs of the other.
The Lord in the Gospel reading today points out that the key to the Kingdom of God is in the child. The key is in the recognition of the truth of one’s needfulness and dependence on others, of one’s vulnerability and weakness. Such is the key that unlocks and opens the greatness of God’s reign.
I don’t think, the Lord was veering away from the earlier discussion on divorce when He demanded that the children be let to come to Him. With the example of the children, I think He continues to advance the discussion on intimacy. The proper question to ask may not be on the reasons for the need to separate or divorce one’s spouse but on the reasons why one has to stay. And the reason for both is vulnerability and weakness – all the characteristics of the helpless child who needs the adult’s indulgent assistance. One needs the other.
The First Reading from the Book of Genesis which the Lord quotes in part in the Gospel, I think, does not invite us to look backward. It is not so much about what happened at the beginning of creation as what is the present reality. The focus is not on God’s past action, but the present human relationships, that moving forward may mean leaving behind the past that has prepared one for the future, just as a man leaves father and mother to be with the spouse.
Such is what Christ does to his bride the Church. His love ushers in the God-life to all of humanity. Recognizing the needfulness of his bride, He incarnated, suffered, died, and resurrected. The faithful are then enabled to seek after the reign of God, for instilled within is the deep longing to fully be united to Him. And with it, one is so blessed and enabled to make better life choices, to turn away from sinfulness, and embrace Godliness. One can only respond to God. If only one is true to one’s deepest longing, one cannot but respond to God’s love, to the beloved’s summons.
In his homily yesterday, Fr Joe reminds us that God is always desiring to save us from our sinfulness, from our weaknesses. But do we recognize our need for God, the God who condescendingly reaches out to the vulnerable, to the needy, to the sinful, to the weak?
Yes, the secret key to understanding the dynamics of Godly relationships is in the child, which, like in marriage, is the recognition of the truth of one’s needfulness for intimate union and dependence on others.
There are various levels of needfulness – physical, social, emotional, moral, psychological, intellectual, spiritual, and so forth. Whoever we are, whatever our status in life may be, there is always the child in us who is needful, who is vulnerable. No one is threatened by a child, on the other hand, the child disarms. It is in this state that we can wield the key that unlocks and opens the God-life for us.
In Baptism, God welcomes us to begin to partake of the God-life with one another. We begin the life in the Church for whom Christ offers himself as Spouse. We heard from the reflection by Bishop Jacob of Serugh at Vigils early this morning that “having been joined with Christ in this way we are called to live out the mystery of our oneness with God by living and loving each other as one with one another. This is the consummation of our marriage union whereby our union bears fruit and realizes the fullness of the love that binds us. It is through our love for one another that we enter into joy, as in a marriage banquet. We do it symbolically only so that we can do it really as we bear our crosses with the one who has married us into unity with God in Him and through love for one another.”
Indeed, our life in God is a vicious cycle of faith, hope, and love: love that enables us to indiscriminately accept one another as Christ loves his bride the Church; faith that enables us to entrust ourselves with the One who is ever available and willingly dependable; and hope that strengthens the weary and stirs up the longing for the bright fullness of life beyond the gloomy realities of the past and present needfulness.