Father Edward McIlmail, LC
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 humbles himself 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."
Introductory Prayer: Father in heaven, thank
you for giving me another day to grow in
love for you, another day to move ahead in my
spiritual life, another day to pray for the souls
closest to me. I want only to please you
during this brief time of prayer.
Petition: Lord, grant
me the grace of childlike simplicity.
1. Turning the Tables:
The disciples are curious about the Kingdom of Heaven,
and their curiosity has a tinge of self-interest. They
want to know how to get ahead in the Kingdom.
Their very question belies a misunderstanding of Christ. The
Kingdom, among other things, is reflected in the Church
on earth. And the Church, being universal, is a kind
of family that takes in all mankind. If ever
we ask, “Who is the greatest in our family?”
we can be sure that it is the wrong kind
of question. The more appropriate question is: “How can
I be a better member of the family? How can
I be a better husband? A better wife? A
better son or daughter or brother or sister?” That
is the question Christ wants us to ask ourselves.
Play: We must not think that Christ had a
naive notion of children as little angels who never do
wrong. So why does Christ hold up children as
models for the rest of us? In part, it is
their simplicity, their tendency to trust. They might not
understand why a parent tells them something, but they
likely will accept it because they realize it comes
from someone who loves them. The spiritual life requires that
same kind of trust. We might not understand completely
why God asks us to do something, but if
there´s a basic trust and openness to him, it is
easier to follow his commands. Many people, unfortunately, squander
what should be the most productive years of their
lives because they doubt God and his Church. They
complicate things, only to find years later the wisdom of
what Our Lord was trying to tell them. By
then, their faults can be forgiven, but not undone.
Once a vase is broken, it can be fixed but
it will never be the same as if it
had never broken. Am I saying no to God because
of a lack of trust?
3. Angelic Aid: Prayers to guardian
angels used to be popular with Catholics. It is
fitting that we pray to them, because each of
us has one. "Beside each believer stands an angel as
protector and shepherd leading him to life," writes St.
Basil (see Catechism of the Catholic Church, 336). Our
angel reflects God´s loving providence for our welfare and
protection. The world is a moral minefield, waiting for us
to make the wrong step. Our angel helps us
make it through this valley of tears. Do I
ever think to pray to my angel?
Christ: The simplicity of children can make me look
foolish by comparison. I believe in you and trust
you, Lord. Help me to translate that trust into serenity
and simplicity. Let me accept the crosses of daily
life with calmness, seeing your loving designs behind them.
Resolution: I will say “yes” to the next difficult
thing someone asks of me, so long as it
is something morally good.