20 February 2007

THE MEASURE OF ONE'S GREATNESS

Tuesday of the 7th Week in Ordinary Time
Mk 9:30-37

Jesus said, “Unless you become like a little child, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.” Yes, He did but not today. Today, Jesus says something related but different. “Anyone who welcomes one of these little children in my name, welcomes me; and anyone who welcomes me welcomes not me but the One who sent me” – this is what Jesus says today.

Becoming like a little child and welcoming little children are different from each other. However, Jesus used both in His teaching about greatness. To be great means to be like a little child. To be great also means to welcome little children. To be like a little child is to be like Jesus who is the Father’s begotten Son. To welcome little children, Jesus explicitly says, is to welcome Jesus Himself. The first is how to be welcomed into the kingdom of God. The second is how to welcome the Son of God. The two are related but different. Both we need to strive to do with all our hearts.

In His earthly life, Jesus grew up in a culture that considered children as minorities. They did not count. Their claims did not matter. They could not stand as witnesses in courts. They were defenseless and could not defend anyone. Children were considered more of properties of their children. Parents were supposed to welcome them and train them to be obedient to the Law of Yahweh.

Jesus identifies with the least, the last, and the lost of society. He is the anawim par excellence, the man whose only hope is the Lord. It therefore explains why Jesus identifies Himself with children. To welcome children is to welcome Him; and to welcome Him is to welcome the Father Himself. The measure of one’s greatness is in how one does that, no matter what his or her position in life is.

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