There are many times of transition, change, and new beginnings in our lives. Sometimes these moments are ones in which we look back, take stock, learn from our experience, and then continue our journey. Before his death, Joshua called all the people of Israel together to remind them of their arduous journey to come to the land of promise. God had been with them in countless ways as they faced one struggle after another before taking possession of the land. Long before Moses had called the people to choose life and faithfulness to God before they entered the land. Now Joshua calls the people to remember their collective story and promises to be faithful so that they will continue to prosper in the land.
So much of the story of Israel’s conquest of the land was accompanied by violence and force and this contrasts so strongly with the new path that Jesus wants disciples to take. The disciples mistakenly see the children as obstacles to be avoided on their path to glory. Jesus’ simple and powerful response would have come as a shock. How could it be that little children would be the ones to possess the kingdom? This is but one of several disturbing challenges and paradoxes Jesus provides the disciples on their road to Jerusalem. On the way, they will need to learn that you have to lose your life to save it, that the first will be last, and that true greatness is about service and caring for the little ones. These challenges confront disciples in every age.
Fr. Chris Monaghan CP, lectures in the New Testament and is President of Yarra Theological Union. He is a member of the Passionist community of Holy Cross in Templestowe.