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Loving Like a Child

First Reading: Genesis 2:18-24

The LORD God said: “It is not good for the man to be alone.
I will make a suitable partner for him.”
So the LORD God formed out of the ground
various wild animals and various birds of the air,
and he brought them to the man to see what he would call them;
whatever the man called each of them would be its name.
The man gave names to all the cattle,
all the birds of the air, and all wild animals;
but none proved to be the suitable partner for the man.

So the LORD God cast a deep sleep on the man,
and while he was asleep,
he took out one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh.
The LORD God then built up into a woman the rib
that he had taken from the man.
When he brought her to the man, the man said:
“This one, at last, is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
this one shall be called ‘woman,’
for out of ‘her man’ this one has been taken.”
That is why a man leaves his father and mother
and clings to his wife,
and the two of them become one flesh.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 128:1-2, 3, 4-5, 6

R. (cf. 5) May the Lord bless us all the days of our lives.

Blessed are you who fear the LORD,
who walk in his ways!
For you shall eat the fruit of your handiwork;
blessed shall you be, and favored.

R. May the Lord bless us all the days of our lives.

Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine
in the recesses of your home;
your children like olive plants
around your table.

R. May the Lord bless us all the days of our lives.

Behold, thus is the man blessed
who fears the LORD.
The LORD bless you from Zion:
may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem
all the days of your life.

R. May the Lord bless us all the days of our lives.

May you see your children’s children.
Peace be upon Israel!

R. May the Lord bless us all the days of our lives.

Second Reading: Hebrews 2:9-11

Brothers and sisters:
He “for a little while” was made “lower than the angels, ”
that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

For it was fitting that he,
for whom and through whom all things exist,
in bringing many children to glory,
should make the leader to their salvation perfect through suffering.
He who consecrates and those who are being consecrated
all have one origin.
Therefore, he is not ashamed to call them “brothers.”

Gospel: Mark 10:2-16

The Pharisees approached Jesus and asked,
“Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife?”
They were testing him.
He said to them in reply, “What did Moses command you?”
They replied,
“Moses permitted a husband to write a bill of divorce
and dismiss her.”
But Jesus told them,
“Because of the hardness of your hearts
he wrote you this commandment.
But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female.
For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother
and be joined to his wife,
and the two shall become one flesh.
So they are no longer two but one flesh.
Therefore what God has joined together,
no human being must separate.”
In the house the disciples again questioned Jesus about this.
He said to them,
“Whoever divorces his wife and marries another
commits adultery against her;
and if she divorces her husband and marries another,
she commits adultery.”

And people were bringing children to him that he might touch them,
but the disciples rebuked them.
When Jesus saw this he became indignant and said to them,
“Let the children come to me;
do not prevent them, for the kingdom of God belongs to
such as these.
Amen, I say to you,
whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child
will not enter it.”
Then he embraced them and blessed them,
placing his hands on them.

NAB

oct 4

Ever since I was a little girl, and we had this awesome picture Catholic Bible that we kids would tussle over (looked just like a series of comics! But we were allowed to peruse during Mass!), this last passage where Christ talks about being like a child to enter the Kingdom blew my mind. I was a child. But how could I have entry over all the adults in front of me, in charge of me? How could a little girl with a penchant for “feeling sick” right around mass time Sunday morning be the sort of person God wanted in the Kingdom?

This incredulity grew over time. As I matured and aged and studied Scripture in various classes throughout school, this passage always hung on to me. Clung to a part of me. As much as I wanted to believe that little children would lead, despite so limited a capacity for understanding anything of great import, like how to get to Heaven, it just seemed overly simplistic. Plus, I was a young adult and how could God be asking me to go backwards in life? I was done being a kid, right?

In my 20’s, whenever this passage was the reading for Mass or I read it during private devotions, I accepted some sort of surface triteness about it—be like a child and be full of wonder and without malice and just love—got it.

Now that I’m so old and wise (ha!) in my 30’s and have little kids of my own and am surrounded by nieces and nephews and friends’ little children, I feel this passage so differently.

The children in my life love hard. They love fiercely. They are all in. Their loyalty cannot be shaken. Their passions cannot be diverted. That sports team (in our case, the Twins forever and ever). That doll. That grilled cheese sandwich. That need to go potty right at the consecration. They are unswerving and steadfast.

How can I, as an adult, love like that? How can I love the Lord my God with my whole heart, whole strength, and whole mind? How can I be like a child and accept the Kingdom? By paring away my selfishness. By paring away my greed. By paring away my desires. And making room to be filled up with God’s love.

Go to Confession. Receive Holy Communion. Attend a Holy Hour. Avail yourself to His graces. Ask for love and you’ll receive it.

Nell O’Leary is an attorney turned stay-at-home mom to three lovelies. She and her husband live in the great city of Saint Paul. You can find out more about her here.

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