“See that you do not despise one of these little ones; for I tell you that in heaven their angels always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 18:10)
In today’s first reading, Ezekiel is given a scroll to eat. On the scroll were contained words of lamentation, mourning and woe but surprisingly as Ezekiel chewed the scroll, it tasted as sweet as honey in his mouth. Truth always appears bitter and too difficult to swallow but when we are courageous enough to accept it, the truth becomes our saving grace.
Be careful with those who use sugar-coated words in addressing you, they may just be leading you into a pit. If we reflect carefully, we would realize that some of the best advice we have received from others came in the form of reproaches. Perhaps, we went home to cry after hearing such advice but we today, we are forever grateful.
Jesus’ disciples asked him “who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Hitherto, they were arguing among themselves who was the greatest so they wanted Jesus to settle the matter. To their greatest surprise, Jesus brought a little child to them saying: “Unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” God’s kingdom does not operate like our human empires where might is right, where the poor, the weak and the little ones are trampled underfoot.
Jesus’ action is a great lesson to all who hold positions of authority, especially within the church. Some ministers behave even worse than government functionaries. We want people to lick our shoes as we move, we become so puffed up with pride that we forget who we were before ordination. Jesus calls us today to imbibe the childlike spirit of humility, selflessness and service. Failure to do this disqualifies us from God’s kingdom.
Going further, Jesus calls for respect for children. “See that you do not despise one of these little ones” Jesus warns us. The worst mistake you can ever make is to try to take advantage of a child’s weakness; that is, their inability to cry out for justice or fight back. Many children have been abused, maltreated, ignored, scandalized and emotionally crushed by persons who feel they are powerful, some had their lives forcefully taken right in the womb, their blood cries out for vengeance.
Children often appear vulnerable but as Jesus reminds us, they all have Angels (invisible spirits) sent by God to guard them. More still, God does not take it lightly when one child is affected. He can afford to leave the ninety-nine to go in search of that one child and ensure justice is done. If you want to know the power that children have, gather some kids, kneel down and ask them to lay their hands on your head and pray for you. Never disrespect children, none is without an Angel.
As a young girl, Clare dedicated herself to prayer. On Palm Sunday in 1212, Clare left her father’s home to meet St. Francis. Over time, other women joined them, wanting to also be brides of Jesus and live with no money. They all lived a simple life of austerity, seclusion from the world, and poverty, according to a Rule which Francis gave them. St. Clare and her sisters wore no shoes, ate no meat, lived in a poor house, and kept silent most of the time. St. Clare is designated as the patron saint of television in 1958 by Pope Pius XII because when St. Clare was very ill, she could not attend mass but she was able to see and hear mass on the wall in her room.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, teach me to respect children and be more childlike in my relations with others. Amen.
Bible Study: Ezekiel 2:8-3:4, Psalm 119:14-131, Matthew 18:1-5,10,12-14).