Matt 18:1-5, 10, 12-14
The Greatest in the Kingdom
In today’s gospel the disciples ask who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus takes a child and says that unless they turn and become as this little child, they will not get into the Kingdom at all.
Actually this is a question of what a man aims at. William Barclay, in his commentary on this gospel passage says that, if a man aims at the fulfilment of personal ambition, the acquisition of personal power, the enjoyment of personal prestige, the exaltation of self, he is aiming at precisely the opposite of the Kingdom of Heaven; for to be a citizen of the Kingdom means the complete forgetting of self, the obliteration of self, the spending of self in a life which aims at service and not at power. So long as a man considers his own self as the most important thing in the world, his back is turned to the Kingdom; if he wants ever to reach the Kingdom, he must turn round and face in the opposite direction.
Jesus actually teaches us two things about becoming like little children and so become the greatest in God’s Kingdom. First, we must imitate children. It is because there are many lovely characteristics in a child like: the power to wonder; the power to forgive and to forget, even when adults and parents treat him unjustly as they so often do; the innocence, which, as Richard Glover beautifully says, brings it about that the child has only to learn, not to unlearn; only to do, not to undo. But the child has three great qualities which make him the symbol of those who are citizens of the Kingdom, according to William Barclay:
1) Child’s humility. A child does not wish to push himself forward or wishes prominence but be left in obscurity and to fade into the background. It is only as he grows up that his instinctive humility is left behind.
2) Child’s dependence. It is natural for a child to be dependent. For him he can never face life by himself. He is dependent on those who love him and care for him. For us if we accept the fact that we are dependent on God, then a new strength and a new peace would enter our lives.
3) Child’s trust. It is because the child is dependent and so he trusts his parents that his needs will be met. When we are children, we cannot buy our own food or our own clothes, or maintain our own home; yet we never doubt that we will be clothed and fed, and that there will be shelter and warmth and comfort waiting for us when we come home. When we are children we set out on a journey with no means of paying the fare, and with no idea of how to get to our journey’s end, and yet it never enters our heads to doubt that our parents will bring us safely there.
The humility of a child is the pattern of our behavior as Christians to one another and his dependence and trust are the pattern of our attitude towards God, the Father of all.
Second is we must be like children. Let us be ready to be dependent in God. We must imitate them, that is, let us humble ourselves and trustful to God and to one another.
But also let us turn from a present orientation to one that is characterized by childlike simplicity.
OPTION 01, 02, 03,