It’s easier to think about how the Gospel challenges others than to look hard at the way it challenges us. Just as the Pharisee in one of Jesus’ famous parables prays ‘Lord, I thank you I am not like that publican,’ we can begin to think ‘Lord, I thank you I am not like that Pharisee’!
As we read this month’s Gospels, we need to ask what they say to us. Just as Jesus challenged the religious and political powers of his age, his words should shake us up today. As our final reading underlines, words of challenge are also words of love – God wants to transform us, not because he is angry or impatient with us, but because he longs to share more of himself with us.
Reflections on this Sunday’s Gospel
This Sunday’s Gospel is Mark 10.2-16 (or 2-12)
From the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. This is why a man must leave father and mother, and the two become one body. They are no longer two, therefore, but one body.
What does it mean to call Holy Communion (or Mass) a sacrament? It means that outward signs (bread and wine) enable us to taste and see a deeper reality – the reality of God’s Kingdom. Through a physical act, Christ continues to nourish us. His sacrifice makes us ‘one body’ – reconciled to the Father, and thereby to one another.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus teaches us that marriage is also sacramental. It can give the couple – and those whose lives they touch – an experience God’s reconciling love.
Not everyone is called to marriage, nor do all marriages flourish quite like this! But it is through our relationships and friendships that God’s Kingdom can become visible. Through them we embody God’s nurture, generosity and forgiveness.
The longer version of today’s Gospel ends with another saying of Jesus which reinforces this message:
People were bringing little children to him, for him to touch them. The disciples turned them away, 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. I tell you solemnly, anyone who does not welcome the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.’ Then he put his arms round them, laid his hands on them and gave them his blessing.
The way we treat one another – and in particular those with the least power, those who depend most on the care and nurture of others – is a powerful sign of which King we follow, and to whose Kingdom we bear ultimate allegiance.
Please pray for the Near Neighbours programme, administered nationally by the Church Urban Fund, and in East London by the Contextual Theology Centre. Pray especially for former Jellicoe Intern Daniel Stone, beginning work with the Stop Da Violence project, which has recently been awarded a Near Neighbours grant to bring people of different faiths and cultures together to tackle gun and knife crime in Forest Gate.