A DEEPER MALAISE

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13 People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. 14 When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. (Mark 10)

This is an interesting narrative by Mark, where Jesus becomes indignant at the attempts by his disciples to rebuke children being brought to him. What would have made the disciples go on the offensive when children were being brought to him?

First, they might have been reflecting the value given to children by the society they lived in. Children were given little value in that era and the women who likely brought the children to be blessed were not too high in the hierarchy either. Yet here was Jesus, who was a prophet, teacher and leader among them. Surely he shouldn’t be wasting his time with the least valued members of the society. Yet when Jesus encouraged the children to come to him, he was rewriting what value is all about.

While society tends to value man depending on his usefulness or ability, God teaches us to value man regardless of his ability, because in him resides the image of God. And if that be so, neither race nor sex nor age should be an impediment to offering dignity to those around us.

Secondly, they might have been echoing the oft cited and practiced concept that spirituality is for the elite. When religion gets organized it is inevitable that the ‘spiritually minded’ few, herd themselves into an elite group that thereafter control or condemn the masses. Here the disciples convinced themselves that they, alongside with Jesus were the elite. How could this elite group waste their time and effort with mere children?

Behind this philosophy is pride and an arrogance that somehow the ‘elite’ are much better than the rest. That was the problem with the Pharisees in that era and that is the problem with many denominations, Christian leaders and select groups and cults arising from Christianity who spare no effort to elevate self and condemn others. What they forget and what Jesus wanted the disciples to realize is that at the heart of the Christian faith is Paul’s cry, “What a wretched man I am–!”– lamenting one’s own depravity and rejoicing in the mercy that was offered in Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.

Yes, the rebuke by the disciples was no innocent foresight, rather reflective of a deeper spiritual malaise and hence the response of indignation from the Lord!

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