Jesus says to become the greatest is to become a small child. Why?

Today’s Gospel reading, on the beautiful feast day of St. Maximilian Kolbe, reminds us of our need to maintain certain qualities of a child. The passage reads, The disciples approached Jesus and said, “Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?” “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven.”

Who are the disciples of today in 2012 in every part of the world? You and me! And, do we all still want to be the greatest, to have the power, to be the elite, to be the dominant? Jesus tells His disciples not to worry about who is the greatest in heaven. His response is to ignore the question initially but to let them know that, unless they change, they won’t ever enter His kingdom. They need to come as a little child to qualify as ‘the greatest’. Then He says that to welcome one child is to welcome Him. We need to embrace their simplicity and trust. A further message is never to despise any of these little ones.

Jesus says 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. Furthermore, to welcome a person who has these qualities in Jesus’ name is to welcome Christ Himself.

We are also reminded not to despise one another. Not anyone! “See that you do not despise one of these little ones . . . for their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father.” We are all children of our heavenly Father, and just like children, we are dependent on Him. This readiness provides a nice preparation for tomorrow’s Feast of the Assumption of Mary. We have been given the Blessed Mother as our mother by Jesus as He was dying on the Cross. We are always her children. Let us accept her as our mother.

O Mary, Mother of God, please pray for us!


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