Grace to you!
Parents share in the labor of love for their baby. Moms, in particular, are experts at it.
The curious baby runs out of the house on a rainy day and makes the dirt his toy. Painted all over with the mud, he runs into the living room. In excitement, he rubs the dirt on the spick and span carpet. He finishes off with some conspicuous smears on the light-brown suede sofa.
Meanwhile, mom and dad are momentarily in suspense. Their mind flashed back and forth. They had just tidied the house in preparation for a special dinner with august visitors coming in minutes.
Dad gets upset. No word said, yet his face tells it all. He manages to pretend all is well. After all, "it's my child." The baby catches a glimpse of dad's face and instinctively senses something isn't right. He is eerily quiet.
Mom smiles and picks up the baby, looking all over his dirt-smeared body to be sure he is ok. Her first instinct is the welfare of the baby. The spill on the floor and the messed carpet and sofa come second. I was one of those muddy and messy babies. At least my mom told me so.
Notice the way parents receive the baby, including his messes and dirt, without judging or rejection. It is the best way to receive the Lord's message. We don't choose only the sweet part. We don't focus only on the joys. We accept everything because the beauty of discipleship is in following the Lord without holding back. Just like the beauty of parenting is in accepting the entire child, the way the baby is—whether messy or clean; healthy or impaired.
The Lord Jesus shares with his apostles the price of his mission as the messiah. They were concerned about positional and, perhaps, plus economic authority, and all the fanfare that goes with it. They were concerned with who was the greatest; and, therefore, who would have the top leadership role in the said kingdom. They weren't on the same spiritual wavelength with the Lord. The Lord was talking of service. They were thinking of kingship.
He told them, as he tells us: "Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me" (Mk 9:37). It could mean receiving the Lord with child-like qualities. I have reflected on this meaning during other times of our reflection and in chapter 19 of my book, Word for a Wounded World volume 1. Here I look at it in another way; the usual way parents receive the baby as described in the story of the mom and the dirty child above.
We are to receive the Lord as moms receive the baby. We receive fully, not parts and pieces, or one aspect over the other.
If we receive the Lord as he is revealed, in the cross and the glory, we are blessed for it. We do not choose only the glory. Nor do we pick only the cross. We need both. We receive both because here on earth; they go together.
I pray for you today. I pray for me too. May we grow in the tender love of the Lord. May we accept the fullness of the Lord’s revelation, in its pains and its joys. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Tuesday Week 7 Ordinary Time B: Jas 4:1-10; Mk 9:30-37]
Fr. Maurice Emelu, Ph.D.
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on Scriptural readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.