Oratio, Episode 11


Lectionary Reading:

Mark 9:30-37


The debate rages amongst the disciples: who will be the greatest among us? Jesus, knowing that this debate was being waged among them on their way home to Galilee, brings a child into their midst. Embracing the child, Jesus tells the disciples: in order to be great, you must become the servant of the least privileged, the most forgotten, the most unpopular, the most abused, marginalized, and oppressed.

What is the way of Jesus? What is the point of all of this? This walking, this journeying, this long and tenuous pilgrimage of life?

Jesus’ response to the disciples leads me to believe that it can only come down to this one thing: to ensure that we did everything we could in order that the children might be well. To leave this world a better place than when we found it. To be willing to push past the curse of our comforts and our privilege and lean into how Jesus is actively bringing about transformational justice and mercy in our midst.

Children, especially in Jesus’ time where they were considered to be of no value, are the most vulnerable and the most in need of our time and our care and our attention. Service to them, as the most disadvantaged and at risk population, is both literal and metaphorical. They represent all of those who find themselves on the outside – abused, forgotten, oppressed, and tormented. They are those society has left out for dead. It was standard practice in the ancient world for a weak baby or a baby girl to be left out for dead, having been deemed of no worth to a family because of their condition or gender.

Similarly, there are many communities in our day that, as a society, we leave out for dead. People of color. LGBTQ folks. Women. Migrant workers and the undocumented. The socioeconomically disadvantaged. Differently abled folk. Those who find themselves at the intersections of multiple of these categories.

It is our duty, as Christians, to align our lives with them, in service to them. We are to interrogate our privilege and our comfort so that we are not cursed and burdened by either. Not that we might save them, we are not the heroes of the story, but instead that we redefine what it means to live in this world. To flip the system on its head. To rewrite the story with the forgotten. To stare in the face of the rising tyranny in this country and around the world and to say that enough is indeed enough. To fight for the welfare of the children, of the forgotten, of the destitute. And to lay aside the privileges that come with being able to say, “I’m too tired, I’m going to check out,” and instead say, “I will not tire, until the children are well.”

May we get our rest, care well for our bodies and souls, bring our egos into submission, and continue on the fight for justice, mercy, and love.