In first century Palestine, children were precious, to their parents but they had no social status or value whatsoever, until adulthood they were nobodies. Jesus creates a revolution by turning the prevailing values upside down, by putting aside all our ideas of self importance and adult status and in simply meeting the child as equal, as child to child.
Jesus wants his disciples to practise this, because in so doing, they will be welcoming him and his God who stands behind his life and mission for others, which is not one of dominance, status and power but destined to culminate in the service of the cross.
Pope Francis has rallied against clericalism, however a powerful and vocal group in the church disagrees. We are called not to be afraid of passionate disagreement within the Church. But as Pope Francis, suggests in Evangelii Gaudium, “ if we remain trapped in conflict, we lose our perspective our horizons shrink and reality itself begins to fall apart.”
Hence we are called by the two keys to a renewal of the Church, participation and overcoming polarisation. All baptised participate in decision making and accountability, especially today anyone guilty of abuse or its cover up must be held accountable, we all agree on this.
Secondly we need to pause and take stock of the horror uncovered in the Church, not just in some of its members but in its culture of clericalism. We rush to find an individual or a group to blame. Against blaming and scapegoating others, Jesus taught us that flaws and corruption are unavoidable in the Church, because both wheat and weeds are sown in our hearts, we work with it by sifting and conversion.
Those guilty of abuse, of harassment or cover up must be brought to justice. At the same time we are invited patiently to engage in honest listening and discernment. Perhaps this might start with a more responsible use of social media. In the words of Luigi Gioia, in his latest book Touched by God, “We must be imaginative enough to make conflict “a link in the chain of a new process” a process of constant personal and institutional conversion- the only thing that makes us authentic followers of Jesus.”