Sunday, September 24, 2006

Who is the Greatest?

I wrote this post late Saturday night, and finished it off very early Sunday morning. Then I went to church, and heard this gospel reading: Mark 9:30-37.

As Pastor Dan points out, to become a child is to become worthless. As late as the 13th century, it's to be the last person picked to be saved in the raging fire. That's the least among us. Children were an expense, especially in an agrarian society where the peasants Jesus talked to lived a subsistence existence, and children represented nothing but a drain on resources. This is still true today, but in Western society we have so many resources (well, those who can read this blog regularly do), that we have an abundance to share with our children. But one more mouth to feed until the child is big enough to shoulder the burdens of the family, or go off and start another one, is simply a burden, and nothing more. Perhaps not to the parents, but Jesus didn't say "Become the child of your parents again." He said, "Be received like a child." Like a worthless person, in other words, one incapable of returning the offerings and support given to you. The last. The least.

One other thing, though. Jesus says whoever would be first, must be last. Jesus institutes a constant race to the bottom, a relentless re-ordering of society which, if it were put into effect society wide, would create a constant churning as all those who were first immediately became last, and all those last immediately became first. And 'round and 'round it would go, in a never-ending movement in which no one could claim the superior position, because to do so would mean immediately you were dethroned; and to fall down to the bottom of the ladder, would mean immediately you were lifted up to the top. And at last, we would attain a true measure of equity, and equality, among everyone.

Call it, perhaps, even, justice.

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