BECOMING GREAT: TUESDAY, 9TH AUGUST, 2022, WEEK 19, YEAR II.
EZEKIEL 2:8-3:4; PSALM 119; MATTHEW 18:1-5, 10, 12-14.
In the Gospel of today, we see the disciples of Jesus struggling with the question of “who is the greatest…?”
In the minds of the disciples, they must have thought that Jesus had decided who was the greatest and so they wanted Him to just announce this to them.
The response of Jesus must have thoroughly shocked them. It was none of the things that they had expected or imagined. He brought out a child and set him as an example.
It may interest us to note that in Jewish society at that time, women and children were not really recognised or respected. The Bible clearly testifies to this.
The understanding was that children and women must be under the authority of men. They were not to be taken seriously and there was nothing to learn from them.
Jesus reversed that understanding by emphasizing today how important a child is before God. He warned us against despising children and we are reminded that their angels are continually in God’s presence.
What is Jesus telling today?
I. Children are so dear to the Lord and God cares about how we treat them and what we do to them. One of the greatest services we can render to God’s kingdom is to help a child or children to know the Lord and grow in their relationship with Him.
If anyone helps a child to build faith in the Lord, the angel of that child will ensure that such a person receives the reward of his/her labour of love.
On the other hand, anyone who leads a child astray, corrupts the innocence of a child or endangers their souls by bad example, negligence or wickedness, will be setting him/herself against the guardian angel of this child.
II. Contrary to the primaeval Jewish understanding that a child had nothing to teach us, Jesus set before us a child as an example of greatness.
Among other lessons that we can learn from children, they particularly teach us dependence (as they depend so much on their parents) and openness.
In connection with the First Reading, I want to talk about their openness to whatever we teach them.
In the First Reading, in a vision the Lord commanded the Prophet Ezekiel to eat a scroll. This meant to receive, internalise and digest the Word of God. The Lord wants us to have this attitude to His word – to come with a child-like openness and simplicity and to learn, believe, accept and grow in our knowledge of the Word of God.
When we come with a child-like openness and simplicity, the Word transforms us and having been transformed, we grow to greatness in God’s sight.