Deacon Tony reflects: childlike, not childish

The Bible, being the Word of God, outlines God’s intentions for us, His people. God looks to mankind to be fruitful, to leave this world in a better place than it was when we entered it. The reading from Genesis today, is introducing God’s intention for marriage. That a man and a woman would join together; be united and become one flesh. The Gospel has the Pharisees testing Jesus on the law given by Moses on divorce. Jesus tells them that it was because mankind was so unteachable, that Moses allowed divorce and outlined the methods by which this could be done. However, Jesus states that those who divorce and remarry are guilty of adultery.

Perhaps we as humans have remained unteachable, as the number of marriages which fail still climbs. All of us need to be aware of the hurt that couples who have experienced marriage breakdowns go through. Often our focus may be on the children affected, but the couples who enter into marriage with such hope for the future are left devastated that their relationship didn’t work for whatever reason. As such we as Christians are called to support people in this position.

There is a wonderful organisation called Retrouvaille1, which helps couples whose marriages are struggling. It requires commitment from both parties, but this organisation have helped hundreds of couples to work at saving their marriage, offering an opportunity of healing in the process. There is a weekend later this month for anyone who may need this type of support. If this could be of help to you, please feel free to approach me or to contact me privately on my diocesan email address.

Mark’s Gospel then goes on to what is one of my favourite parts of this Gospel, where we hear about the disciples trying to stop the children from getting closer to Jesus.

Now, I don’t know if the disciples were trying to shew the children away because of what Jesus was teaching at the time (adultery) or if this was just a general attitude to children. We heard a few weeks ago that children were on a par with servants in Jewish society at that time. Jesus rebukes the apostles and tells them that unless we can learn to approach Jesus with the same trust, sense of wonder and inquisitiveness of a child then we will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus is not asking us to remain as children. In other places we hear about childish attitudes, the other week for example when the apostles were quarrelling over who was the greatest among them. Or when Jesus spoke about children in the marketplace calling out to each other. Jesus does not want us to be childish, He wants us to be childlike. Jesus is again saying that a person’s significance is not gauged by power, strength, influence or status; but by nearness to ‘the kingdom’.

So for me as a married man, I am not to enter into things in the same way I did when I was a child. Growing up with my two brothers we would often quarrel over who did what chores around the house and tally up what we as individuals did, this is the type of childish behaviour which we are to grow out of. Living in a loving relationship means we don’t keep score. We remain open to listen, forgive and offer the other our continued support for the benefit of our relationship; which should be life-giving to both parties

Jesus wants us; even as adults; to approach God and all the teachings about God with awe. Our fear of the Lord is not a terror, it is a state where we have the deepest respect for God and a willingness to do what it takes to serve God. When we can learn to approach God in this way we can be like the children in the Gospel; we can sit there in His presence and allow Jesus to put His arms around us and give us His blessing.

Further Reading

Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC)2

CCC 1602-1617, 1643-1651, 2331-2336: conjugal fidelity
CCC 2331-2336: divorce
CCC 1832: fidelity, a fruit of Spirit
CCC 2044, 2147, 2156, 2223, 2787: the fidelity of the baptized

Please keep in your prayers

  • The people of Afghanistan, Haiti, Palma and other crisis areas of the world, that they receive the help they need.
  • God’s creation, that mankind will become better stewards of this world which has been entrusted to us by God
  • Those who are sick, those who are dying, the recently deceased and those who mourn.
  • All those seeking a place of safety, that they will be welcomed in Jesus’ name.
  • The Year of the Eucharist, which has now started, that this will lead to a fresh outpouring of love by the people of God for the Body and Blood of Christ.
  • The Metanoia programme, which continues on Monday (4th), for a Spirit led programme and all those attending.
  • A renewed love of the Rosary as we are now in the month dedicated to the Rosary and approaching the feast day of Our lady of the Rosary (7th)

1 Retrouvaille in England and Wales

2 Catechism of the Catholic Church (