"'Anyone who welcomes any of these little ones in My name, welcomes Me; and anyone who welcomes me, welcomes not Me but the One Who sent Me’” (Mark 9: 36-37).
Why the little child? In the ancient Palestinian society, and in fact in the ancient world, children were powerless, considered the weakest in the society; they had nothing to offer, they were abused and forced into slavery. It is not a surprise that Jesus would identify Himself with the little child because He came to save the weak, fallen humanity. In Matthew 25: 40 there is a similar identification when He said: “When you did it for one of the least of your brothers, you did it for Me.” But the identification here goes beyond Jesus to God, the Father. The commission to welcome these little ones is to let the disciples, and in deed all of us, know that the new Kingdom would be an all-inclusive one, where everyone is first born son, created in the image and likeness of God united in one faith and one baptism in the one Spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ. The disciples and indeed all members of this Kingdom are to warm up to the weakest in the society, to receive those who have nothing to offer, to respect the dignity of every human being irrespective of status and to serve “the least” of the Lord’s brothers/sisters. We may need to examine our relationships with “the child” in our society today: how do we relate with the weak and the powerless? How do we receive those who have nothing to offer? Where are the underprivileged in our considerations?