“Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.
And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me” (Mt 18:4-5).
Children during the time of Jesus were seen, if at all, to have little worth, vulnerable, completely dependent on their parents, and little, if any, status in society. They were under the radar, nothings, nobodies. Jesus invites a child to be in their midst as a response to the disciples question as to who would be considered the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.
Jesus taught his disciples and he teaches us that if we are to be great in the Kingdom of heaven we are to resist the cultural lures of power, prestige, honor, and fame. We are to reject the image that we are super men and women that need no one as we strive for complete autonomy and self sufficiency. Instead, like a child, we are to place our complete dependency and trust in God, to rely on him for everything.
Participating in the reign of God is not one of lordship over another, but assuming the humility to accompany and walk along another in their journey. We see this in the reality of Jesus, who as the Son of God entered into our human condition, conceived in the womb of Mary, developed through his period of gestation, and was born into our world, fully divine and fully human. As an infant and child he was completely dependent on Mary and Joseph and God his Father. As he continued to grow, he experienced the fullness of the human condition. He laughed, he cried, he got sick, he was tempted, he felt pain, he experienced heartache, and joy. Throughout his life, and especially through his ministry, he met people where they were and as they were, he accompanied them and loved them by willing their good and empowered them to actualize their potential.
We are to do the same. We are to resist putting our self interest first, but we are to instead lose our self in our service to one another. We need to recognize our dependence on God and others, as well as be willing to be present and accompany those in our midst as we journey together in this life. May we provide a shoulder to lean on, an ear to hear, a voice that speaks for the voiceless, and a soul open to pray with others. St Mother Teresa embodied discipleship when she picked up a dying man in the street. She did not ask his religion, was not concerned if he was of a different race or nationality, was not afraid to risk illness or injury by attending to him. She knelt down and was present to him in his time of dire need. May we follow Jesus and St Mother Teresa by placing our dependency in God’s hands and accompany others in doing little things with great love.
Photo: My brothers in humility and service: Deacon Gerry, Deacon Dennis, me, Deacon Henry, and Deacon Pete at our installation as lectors 2011 (Dn Gerry was already ordained).
Link for Mass readings today: