Daily Reflection – 8/13/19
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?” He called a child, whom he put among them, and said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the Kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father. What is your opinion? If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills and go in search of the stray? And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it than over the ninety-nine that did not stray. In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost.”( Matthew 18:1-5 10, 12-14)
Who is the greatest in the Kingdom and, by implication, in the Christian community, which is a sign of the Kingdom? Jesus answers the question very simply by putting a child in front of his disciples. To become the greatest is to become a small child.
Why? Children have their qualities and their defects. They are intellectually and emotionally immature. But children have some precious qualities which they often lose as they grow up. They are born free of prejudice and they are totally open to learning. It is this quality that we need to enter the Reign of God. To be totally open and free of prejudice when it comes to listening to God. To be fully teachable and malleable and flexible. Then we are ready to receive everything that God wants us to have and to become everything God wants us to become.
A childlike heart is a Christlike heart. A heart that is innocent, without deceit, forgives easily and exhibits simplicity and credulity. A heart that finds it easy to trust, that embraces its weakness; one that is not worried about the future and totally depends on parents for all needs. Would it not be of great happiness to relate with a childlike heart in our relationship with God and people around us? To relate with the heart of a child it is of great importance that we possess certain qualities, one of those qualities include humility which was not exhibited by the apostles in the gospel of Matthew (18:1-5). Christ made us understand that who and what we are while on earth does not change the fact that to be great in the kingdom of heaven we have to be like children. We are to live our lives without comparing it to that of others and avoid unnecessary rivalry, competition for power and greatness.
Jesus moves from children to the ‘little ones’. These little ones are not just children but the weaker ones in the community and they may be adults. But they are the ones who can very easily be led astray by the bad example which others give. And there are severe penalties for doing this (mentioned in the omitted passage).
This is emphasized by the parable of the lost sheep. God is compared to a shepherd who has lost just one sheep out of a hundred. When he finds it again he is happier than over the other ninety-nine which have not strayed. Such, the gospel concludes, is the desire of God, that not even one of the ‘little ones’ be lost.
Christ has a different definition for greatness. As sons and daughters of God we are to follow God’s definition and not that of the world.
Prayer of The Day
Lord, teach me your way of humility and simplicity of heart that I may find perfect joy in you. May your light shine through me that others may see your truth and love and find hope and peace in you.”
Maybe today, we could try remember our childhood. This would be a good challenge for us. To remember our childhood, and the simple pleasures and ways of relating to other people and the world around us, that we once knew. Maybe we could do something we haven’t done in a long time, that we used to enjoy when we were little. Or do something spontaneous, like picking wildflowers or go to the park on our lunch break. There are a million little ways we can reclaim some of the childlike qualities we once had, if we just look at the world around us, with fresh eyes.