There are at least two forms of understanding. First, I don’t understand, because I do not have relevant knowledge. So, please explain and teach me. Second, I do not want to understand, because it is against my wish or expectation. The latter is the attitude of the disciples towards what Jesus has said about his own suffering. In fact, this is the second time of Jesus’ talking about his suffering (the first is on Mk 8:31). Are the disciples so stupid that they are not able to understand what Jesus has said? If not, why don’t the disciples want to understand? According to Mark, understanding Jesus’ suffering is not simply about knowledge and information, but that it demands a change of life. In this Jesus’ second saying of his death, the disciples are asked to ‘welcome one such child in my name’, and this is the disciples find it hard to accept.
Those who have been teaching chilren Sunday School would definitely feel happy, for you not only welcome children, but also welcome Jesus and God the father. But don’t be too early to be happy, for children in Jesus’ usage is not just about a matter of age. Rather children is a symbol of those children who are vulnerable, helpless, marginalized, and despised, and therefore, they can be children as well as adults. Jesus is asking the disciples to welcome these people. Apparently, this is a noble act, but this is not a favourable act. We praise what Mother Teresa has done for the poor, but we would not choose to do it. We teach our children to show respect and appreciation to cleaners, but we won’t encourage our children to be cleaners.
In this summer, we have a good experience of welcome children. When the government insists to introduce national education to schools, a parent concern group is formed in order to defend the freedom of thought of their children. Its slogan is 良心話事，守護孩子 (our conscience speaks, and defends our children). A mother shares,
This movement has successfully appealed to the public. Many people join it in order to defend the children. The movement against the national education tells us that first, welcome children is more than giving them a home, sweeties and toys, but also defending their freedom of thought. Second, welcome children is learn to be the voice of the voiceless. And at the same time, we have to ask ourselves whether our voice has covered the children voice, and make them voiceless. Third, welcome children requests one to leave one’s comfort zone to do to do small things (such as, distributing black ribbon) and even pick up a unwelcome role. Welcome children is a conscientious act. It has no reward, no glory and no guarantee of success. Also, welcome children is an egg’s act against the wall. There is no romance in the struggle, and there is no hero, but only servant and tiredness.
By sharing with the disciples that he would be suffered and killed, Jesus reminds them that following him would not bring one to glory and power. Rather it demands discipleship characterized by welcome children. It is in such kind of act that we understand what the suffering of Jesus is, and it is in such kind of act that understanding is following.