By Ken Asel
A Reading from the Gospel of Mark 10:13-22
13 People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. 14 But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. 15 Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” 16 And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.
17 As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.’” 20 He said to him, “Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.” 21 Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” 22 When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.
Several years ago I served as an interim at St. Mary’s Church in St. Fagan’s Community just outside of Cardiff, Wales. It was one of my finest experiences in almost 50 years as a priest and left me with several significant memories. One of the most special was “Junior Church.”
Together, at the altar rail, the children and I told stories to each other about everyone in St. Mary’s, who are deeply beloved by their Heavenly Father. While I have frequently had the privilege as a priest of sitting on the floor just outside the altar rail with children in a number of congregations over the years, this instance I especially cherish. What I remember most are the smiles on the faces of the blant (children). I was surprised that I wept as they returned to their parents and I went to the altar. Not a few of the sturdy Welsh were surprised as well!
The Gospel of Mark today speaks of the children of Palestine, 2,000 years prior to our three-month visit to St. Mary’s. When Jesus approached the children, he encountered his disciples’ attempt to shoo them away, blocking their path. Then Jesus rebuked the apostles, who desired to be on the front row. Jesus reminded his audience that day children are first in the Kingdom of God. Not because they’re cute or heart-warming, but because God chooses to reveal his innermost self to the most humble. May we never forget.
(The Reverend) J. Kenneth Asel, D.Min. is a retired priest from the Diocese of Wyoming. Devvie and he have been married for over 30 years and reside on the Front Range.
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Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer
Today we pray for:
Bible and Common Prayer Book Society, Red Bank, N.J.
The Diocese of Andaman and Car Nicobar Islands – The (united) Church of North India