I would like to also propose a question or offer an encouragement each week to reflect upon, particularly in light of the rendering found here in The Message: I am always taken by the thought of Jesus gathering the little child to him and embracing him. So often, I decide to stay at the margins with Jesus, perhaps being too afraid to allow him to gather me to him. So, let us consider this week what areas of your life need to be given to the Lord and how might you approach him more often with greater trust?
“Let’s give the just the run-around; they’re no good to us. They’re always underfoot, always better-than-thou when it comes to observance of God’s word. What they accuse us of amounts to nothing more than a few white lies do.”
And, “Let’s see if the words of the just are true; they have to die just as we do."
And, “If they claim they’re true children of God, let’s put them to the test; let’s see if God will take up their cause and prevent them from getting hurt.”
And, “Let’s interrogate them endlessly and torment them mercilessly; then we’ll see how faithful they really are; let’s stretch their piety to the breaking point.”
And, “Let’s condemn them to a really messy death and see if, as their very words always promise, God comes to save them.”
Outlaws are out to get me,
hit men are trying to kill me.
Nothing will stop them;
God means nothing to them.
Oh, look! God’s right here helping!
God’s on my side,
Evil is looping back on my enemies.
Don’t let up! Finish them off!
I’m ready now to worship, so ready.
I thank you, God—you’re so good.
You got me out of every scrape,
and I saw my enemies get it.
My friends, this can’t go on. A spring doesn’t gush fresh water one day and brackish the next, does it? Apple trees don’t bear strawberries, do they? Raspberry bushes don’t bear apples, do they? You’re not going to dip into a polluted mud hole and get a cup of clear, cool water, are you?
Do you want to be counted wise, to build a reputation for wisdom? Here’s what you do: Live well, live wisely, live humbly. It’s the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts. Mean-spirited ambition isn’t wisdom. Boasting that you are wise isn’t wisdom. Twisting the truth to make yourselves sound wise isn’t wisdom. It’s the furthest thing from wisdom—it’s animal cunning, devilish conniving. Whenever you’re trying to look better than others or get the better of others, things fall apart and everyone ends up at the others' throats.
Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.
Where do you think all these appalling wars and quarrels come from? Do you think they just happen? Think again. They come about because you want your own way, and fight for it deep inside yourselves. You lust for what you don’t have and are willing to kill to get it. You want what isn’t yours and will risk violence to get your hands on it.
You wouldn’t think of just asking God for it, would you? And why not? Because you know you’d be asking for what you have no right to. You’re spoiled children, each wanting your own way.
Leaving there, they went through Galilee. He didn’t want anyone to know their whereabouts, for he wanted to teach his disciples. He told them, “The Son of Man is about to be betrayed to some people who want nothing to do with God. They will murder him. Three days after his murder, he will rise, alive.” They didn’t know what he was talking about, but were afraid to ask him about it.
They came to Capernaum. When he was safe at home, he asked them, “What were you discussing on the road?”
The silence was deafening—they had been arguing with one another over who among them was greatest.
He sat down and summoned the Twelve. “So you want first place? Then take the last place. Be the servant of all.”
He put a child in the middle of the room. Then, cradling the little one in his arms, he said, “Whoever embraces one of these children as I do embraces me, and far more than me—God who sent me.”