Sunday, October 7, 2018
A Reflection on Mark 10:15-16, N.A.B.
By: Larry T. Smith
Who is in heaven, or who do we hope is in heaven, and how can we get there? A friend of mine still grieves deeply over the death of her son, her only child, who was tragically killed in an automobile accident a few years ago. In a dream she saw her son and Jesus in heaven riding magnificent rainbow-colored horses laughing and smiling having a great time. So, she is convinced that her son is in heaven. But, is he in heaven? Maybe, I don’t know. And how often have we heard someone speaking from the depths of their grief and misery at the loss of a loved one, proclaim: I know that he / she is in a better place. When one of our loved ones dies, it gives us comfort to believe that they are in heaven waiting for the final bodily resurrection. But, are they? Maybe, we hope so.
Still yet, the question remains: who is in heaven? We might focus our attention on verses 15 and 16 of Mark’s Gospel reading for this Sunday for the answer:
Blessing of the Children. 13 And people were bringing children to him that he might touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. 14 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. 15 Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.” 16 Then he embraced them and blessed them, placing his hands on them.
Do any of the other Gospels repeat this theme? Yes, the author of Matthew’s Gospel writes:
Matthew 18:2-3: 2 He called a child over, placed it in their midst, 3 and said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.
Similarly, the author of Luke’s Gospel writes:
Luke 18:16-17: 16 Jesus, however, called the children to himself and said, “Let the children come to me and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 17 Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.”
In all three gospels Jesus tells us who is in heaven: it is those of us who accept God’s loving gift of salvation as a grace, a free-will gift from God, and who trust Him implicitly. Jesus tells us to use little children as our model because of a child’s complete dependence on and trust in its parents. But, what did He mean by that?
Last year I watched my two-year old granddaughter taste chocolate ice cream for the very first time. As the very first half-spoon of the dark brown frozen concoction settled on her tongue there was a look of wonder on her little face; then the look of wonder changed smoothly into wide-eyed amazement as her taste buds enveloped it, finally her shiny little face broke into a wide open smile and her arms flew open in greedy, yet joyful anticipation of the next spoonful. Her loving mother patiently fed her one spoonful after another. When the ice-cream was finally gone my granddaughter flashed her mother an unforgettable look of love and gratitude.
First, Jesus tells us that heaven is inhabited by those who accept God’s gift of salvation with amazement and joy. Then, He tells us to have complete trust in God the Father who will lovingly nourish us with spoonful by spoonful of that which is necessary for our salvation; it is a gift that we didn’t earn or merit. My granddaughter was completely dependent on the love of her mother for the next spoonful of chocolate ice-cream; there was nothing that she could have done to earn or merit it.
Who is in heaven? It has always been those among all of humanity who have had the same loving, trustful dependence on God that little children have for their parents, and who follow His path to salvation.