Reflection and Prayer for Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity – 23rd September 2018 (Proper 20)

This material was first published by Redemptorist Publications
and is included here with their permission.

Mark 9:30-37

Welcome the child, welcome God

Jesus is again telling his disciples what lies ahead. Last time he spoke about this, Peter protested and was told sharply to back off. Perhaps the argument between the disciples about who was the greatest stems from an argument about who should ask Jesus what he means.

Jesus knows what they were bickering over and decides to use this as another teaching opportunity. He tells them that the greatest person in the eyes of God is the one who serves others and the one who puts the needs of others before his or her own needs.

Jesus also knows about their lack of understanding and fear of asking what he means. He takes a child into his arms. The child doesn’t understand what’s going on around him, he’s too young to follow the conversation. But he’s held and loved by Jesus and that makes him feel safe.

Perhaps Jesus is saying to his disciples “I know you don’t understand what I mean and that it’s frightening. It’s too soon for you to see the whole picture. But just as I’m holding this child safely so I will hold you safely as you grow in understanding. Don’t be ashamed of not understanding, don’t be afraid to ask. I will welcome you as God’s child and if you can welcome others as God’s children you will be welcoming God himself into your life.”

We don’t have to understand in order to be held and loved by God.


Lord Jesus, you welcome us as your children, holding us safely in your love. Help us to trust you when we don’t understand what’s happening around us and are afraid to ask and give us grace that, in turn, we may welcome others into our own lives. Amen