In today’s gospel, Jesus speaks to us very precious words on his coming passion and death, which the disciples failed to understand, as usual.  He also gives a teaching on greatness and on humility in the Kingdom of God his Father, again, very difficult to square with the reality of human attitudes.
However, beyond the words, let us notice a special gesture Jesus does in the Gospel. Mark’s gospel is said to be the earliest one, and so, it is almost unedited, almost raw, unlike the other three gospels with their polished theology and careful insinuations to a particular direction. Mark’s gospel was rather composed of direct observations, words and descriptions the early Christians heard and saw from the Lord.
Notice that while teaching, Jesus invites a small child to be with him, “wraps his arms around” the child, and explains his point. Isn’t that a striking action from the Lord? Jesus is not a preacher who speaks above the heads of his audience. He is full of warmth, sensitivity and love. He is capable of hugging a child to show how much the Father loves his children.
The child represents the “least” in society, the weakest, the helpless. With the women, children were not even counted in Jesus’ time. And yet, the Lord in speaking about the plight of the “least,” warmly embraced a little child.
Even the disciples were afraid of becoming small. In fact, they were arguing who among them will be the greatest in the Kingdom.  Who would want to be small and insignificant? When you are the “least” in society, today as it was before, then you find yourself alone, afraid, unloved, forgotten, or ignored.
But Jesus is telling us something here. “If you want to be great, be the least of all.” Why? Because God loves the little ones. He is their father. He is their support. He does not abandon the ones ignored by their neighbors and families.  The Father, like Jesus, embraces the least and assures them of his undying devotion.
Lord I am afraid to be small, to be counted as nothing. But embrace me Lord when I feel that I become such in the eyes of people around. May your arms, wrapped around me, dispel the fear, the loneliness, and the pain. Living within your embrace, my I feel the joy of experiencing the security and love that can only come from one who truly loves me. Amen.