Mark 10:2-16 or 10:2-12
Riding the number 36 Broadway bus in Chicago can be quite an adventure. It winds its way through some gentrifying neighborhoods as well as some of the most affluent. I usually board on the edge of the developing neighborhood. Unlike the bus routes along Lake Michigan where I love to just sit and watch the passing scenery, on the 36, I usually open a book or work a crossword puzzle, avoiding any contact with my fellow passengers. That’s often not possible. One morning about 11:00 a.m. I boarded the number 36. It was crowded as usual with passengers boarding and getting off at every stop along the way. A couple of young mothers with strollers sat in the front seats reserved for people with disabilities blocking the aisle making all boarding passengers maneuver carefully around them to proceed to the back. At one stop an older gentleman got on with his walker. He wasn’t willing or able to get around the strollers and so he gruffly asked one of the women if they would move and allow him to sit in the seat he thought he deserved. Evidently, the woman didn’t hear or understand, so the gentleman spoke louder and louder. As he raised his voice I and the rest of the passengers started noticing. The woman with her stroller continued to ignore the man, so he started moving the stroller with the baby in it himself. He got the woman’s attention now along with every other woman on the bus and they let their voices be heard. It was beginning to look like a riot was brewing and I started looking for a way out. There was no easy way. This yelling and screaming, the old man with the walker vs. the women on the bus continued until finally, the police arrived and took the old man and the woman with her child off the bus, and we were allowed to proceed.
Often a woman with a child or two or three will be on the bus and the youngest one will become the center of attention for all those near by, catching passengers eyes, giggling, saying hi as well as waving goodbye to all on their way out.
In the scripture readings lately, Jesus has been telling us we must become like little children. In today’s readings this admonition follows St. Paul’s recommendations to married couples. I wondered what’s the connection? "It is a puzzlement" I thought, to quote the king in the King and I.
Maybe, I’m not sure, it’s the child’s seeming inability to see themselves as anything but part of the life around them. They don’t seem to discriminate. They smile, say goodbye and connect to everyone and anyone. And maybe that’s the married couples goal, to stay connected as well. Lord, help me to bloom where I am planted today, being totally connected to the people and places you bless me with today, even the ones on the number 36.
Dan O’Donnell is a Passionist Partner and a longtime friend of the Passionists. He lives in Chicago.