sexta-feira, 17 de março de 2017


Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last,
and the servant of all…
Taking the child in his arms, he said to them,
“Whoever welcomes one of these little children
in my name welcomes me…”
Mark 9:35b-37a (read 9:33-37) - NIV

The disciples were as problematic to Jesus as were his critics and enemies. Following Jesus was no guarantee of perfection or wisdom. The followers fumbled and stumbled, and at the hour of greatest danger, abandoned him. With the crucifixion of Jesus, many returned to their former way of life. They were unstable and selfish. Each sought dominion over the others, wanting to reach the top and be “me first”.

With Pentecost and the formation of the churches, the situation did not change. The old problems: selfishness, deception and friction between the brethren reappeared. The internal problems were as threatening as the external persecutions. The Epistles were written because of the conflicts within Christian communities in order to extinguish fires in their own households of faith.

Often, in the course of Christian history, the theology of taking up the cross morphed into the practice of violence. The ideal of humility gave place to arrogance, and service to others became manipulation of others. The church as an institution has much difficulty in being consistent in matching theory with practice. The individual is often sacrificed to promote the structure. Churches confuse institution with community. In promoting themselves they think they are benefiting mankind. Ecclesiastical institutions follow the same pattern as secular ones in that they, too, often become competitive arenas in which some rise to the top at the expense of others.

Jesus faced a fuss over power among his disciples. There was still no formal church structure, but they were already fighting for the "pole position” at the starting line.

Jesus called their attention to children. Children represented the "powerless" without authority and those who had no standing in the social structure. The greatest persons in the Kingdom are the "powerless". The power of Jesus was not institutional. He never held office which gave him authority over others. His power was moral.

To receive children in a motherly fashion is to identify with them. Those who really love children have no ambitions of grandeur and power. Mother love is love that gives, nurtures and sacrifices itself for the good of the beloved.

Our "civilization" ignores children. They are the biggest victims of malnutrition and all kinds of violence. More attention is given to prevent abortion than to caring for those who are already born. War, with the hypocritical justification of security, has priority over the welfare of the growing number of impoverished people in the USA of which children are a large part. In Africa they are abducted and trained to take up arms and fight in favor of the powerful. In many cities traffickers use them for enrichment. Some parents put them to beg on street corners. Many are used as cheap labor for the production of low cost articles on economic competition.

It is easy to identify with the powerful and favor them. It is advantageous to give value to those who hold prominent positions and are successful. We want to circulate with the elite.

Receiving children is to identify with those who are not valued by society and can be seen as useless and inconvenient. Along with them are the elderly poor, the immigrants, the minorities and other groups marginalized by prejudice and neglect. Those are the people that need solidarity in order to survive! Jesus was homeless, landless, jobless and penniless. He lived on the margins of social structure. Whoever receives one of these, receives Jesus.

We can receive Jesus only as we receive those of the disadvantaged with whom he identified. All else is illusion and self-deception.


They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.

Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”

He took a little child whom he placed among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”

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