Matthew 18:1-5 NRSVue
1At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2He called a child, whom he put among them, 3and said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.
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Some thoughts on this scripture
Lord, you saw something in this child that you want to see in me: the capacity to wonder at the world, its smells and taste and sounds and sights; and a readiness to depend on others rather than be full of myself; and above all, a trust in you as my Father, for whom my destiny is all-important. Give me that childlike confidence in your love.
Jesus points to the tiniest child in the crowd and encourages us to be like that -in that culture, as in many cultures, the child had no influence, status or control over life. All was dependent on the parent and on the community. He is both pointing out something about how we live our lives, and also about accepting the most humble of people into the community. We are members of Jesus' family, community and church by virtue just of who we are, before any achievements. Maybe in prayer we might notice what gives us a buzz or a sense of importance about ourselves and put this beside the picture of children, who know that all they have is the gift of others and of God.
Jesus told the disciples to change and become humble like children. How? We cannot regain our youth, inexperience, or innocence. But we can learn to put our ego in its place, to stop pushing ourselves forward, hogging the conversation. We can learn to be happy in the background, no longer the centre of attention or striving to be the greatest. To be comfortable in that role is a huge grace.
The big sign of God is in the life, works and words of Jesus Christ. The people wanted more bread, more miracles. The bread of Capernaum is not just flour and water - it is the word and love of God in Jesus. This work is in each of us too - God's work is our faith. Let our prayer be a desire to believe more deeply - ‘Lord I believe, strengthen my belief'.