STep #1: Lectio / Read
Matthew 18:1-5, 10, 12-14
The disciples approached Jesus and said,
“Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?”
He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said,
“Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children,
you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven.
Whoever becomes humble like this child
is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.
And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives 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.”
Step #2: Meditatio / Meditate
After an entire summer spent with kids, I’ve had the pleasure of explaining to 1st graders why they can’t eat bird poop, the amusing experience of watching 1st graders including their favorite ice cream in their drawings for Jesus because “I love ice cream, so Jesus probably does too!”, and the honor of hearing quotes such as “but I do know one thing: I make a MAD bunny hopper!” So when Jesus was talking about children inheriting the kingdom of Heaven, did He really mean these kids, who laughed uncontrollably at farts and couldn’t stand the thought of going a day without coloring?
Of course He did.
When the disciples first approached Jesus with the question at the beginning of today’s Gospel, they were looking for Jesus to reply with one of their names, raising them above all other disciples and essentially guaranteeing them a spot in Heaven. Jesus, however, knew exactly what they were doing, and shut that down immediately. By calling over a child, Jesus not only calls them out on their pride, but reminds the disciples—both the original 12 and us disciples of Christ today—how valuable children are.
To follow Jesus means to have faith in even the things we don’t fully understand, while constantly learning and growing when we make mistakes. That last part is often forgotten, but just as children learn, ask questions, and use their mistakes to grow, so should we. This is key in having a close relationship with God, and happens mostly through prayer.
In the first half of the Gospel, Jesus shuts down the disciples’ pride, telling them instead to become childlike in their faith. In the second half of the Gospel, Jesus reminds us that just as parents protect and love their children, so will God protect and love us. If a child unknowingly wanders off, a parent’s first instinct isn’t to abandon the child as punishment, but to bring them back immediately, no matter what. In the same way, when we make mistakes, God runs to us just like a parent runs to their child.
There’s two sides to being children of God. Sometimes we’re the disciples, needing to be reminded to focus on God rather than ourselves. Other times, we’re the kids trusting in God’s intimate love for us, that He knows us even down to our favorite ice cream. In both situations, God still loves and cares about us as His children; while He calls us to throw away our pride and focus on Him with a pure heart, He also reminds us that we are infinitely loved and treasured.
You are God's child. And He's asking you to grow today.
Step #3: Oratio / Pray
In what ways am I being childlike in my faith, loving God with a pure heart?
In what ways might God be asking me to grow?
Is there anything I'm holding back from God, scared of punishment rather than trusting in His infinite love?
If I was to talk to God openly, like a child, what would I say?
Step #4: Contemplatio / Contemplate
"And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me."
"I am a child of God."
"In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost."
For the Rest of Your Day...
Try talking to God openly like a child, focusing on Him completely.
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Today's prayer was prepared by Tatiana Schaffer.