What I’m Thinking: Vulnerable

At the beginning of Mark’s chapter ten, Jesus speaks first about divorce (he wasn’t for it) and about welcoming children (he favored it). What do these people have in common? Vulnerability.

Here’s a transcript:

I’m thinking about the tenth chapter of Mark’s Gospel (Mark 10:2-16). The section that the lectionary editors have chosen has two themes to it that don’t seem to have a lot of relationship one to the other. The first theme is Jesus’ teaching on divorce.

Some Pharisees asked Jesus if divorce was lawful and, under the laws of Moses, it was. Jesus said so. He also said to them, and later amplifying it to his disciples, that divorce was a process that was filled with pain and loss and, as somebody who has gone through divorce, I can testify. It can indeed be filled with pain and loss.

The second theme is that story that we all love about Jesus welcoming the children. Parents were bringing children to Jesus to bless them. The disciples tried to stop them. Jesus got indignant about it, and said, “Let the little children come to me. To them belongs the realm of God, and anyone who does not enter the realm of God like a child will not enter it.”

Now, we usually understand that entering the realm of God like a child is entering with some sense of innocence, but friends, my office is next to a classroom of pre-schoolers. Little children are not innocents. They bicker. They squabble. They take toys from one another. They fail to share. They do all the things, in fact, that, well, sometimes we commend adults for doing, which is kind of a hard thing to think about.

No, they’re not innocents. What they are is vulnerable. They rely pretty much entirely on adults to make sure they are fed and housed and clothed and safe. And that is, I think, a common strand between children and people involved in divorce. There is an enormous amount of vulnerability going on there. The emotional vulnerability. In the first century, there was a tremendous amount of economic vulnerability, literally matters of life and death, because a divorced woman might be left completely without means of support.

I think when Jesus said that those who enter the realm of God are those who enter it like a child, I think he meant that we enter it in our vulnerability, in our weakness, in our dependency upon God. And that is just as true of adults in trying and traumatic situations, whether it be divorce, or illness, or economic need, or all the other things that happen in adult lives. Or if it be children, who live and grow from that place of profound vulnerability and dependence upon God and upon us.

That’s what I’m thinking. I’m curious to hear what you’re thinking. Leave me your thoughts in the comment section below; I’d love to hear from you.

Categories What I'm Thinking | Tags: , , | Posted on September 27, 2021

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