Tuesday, August 14, 2012

"Whoever humbles himself like this child"

Today's gospel has the familiar verse where the apostles argue over who is the greatest in the kingdom, and Jesus tells them that they need to become more childlike.  It's so familiar to me that I usually fly by it, "Oh yes, I need to be humble and childlike; I know that."  The Church does us a real favor in breaking off small morsels of the gospel for us to chew on each day; it forces us to mine each word of Jesus, again and again.  Allow me to give a quote from today's text, and I'll highlight what caught my eye today. 
Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."  
The question that came to my mind was, "What does it mean to humble yourself like this child?  How do children show humility?"  I have two kids, and I work with children daily, so I started to think about the way children interact and what it says about them.  I recalled how excited kids get when telling me about their heroes and their special talents.  They don't resent their heroes because of their abilities; they want to emulate them, copy them.  They have no problem telling you who is "the best" at something - whether the topic is sports or riding a two-wheeler .  When one of their friends answers correctly or scores a point, they cheer.  (Although I've also met a few who sulk.)  

Most of the time kids seem to lack self-consciousness when it comes to praising others; they don't feel bad saying that someone is better at something than they are. They take joy in the success, never minding that it isn't "theirs."  It's enough to aspire to reach that height; and besides that, it seems to be theirs simply by participation, by their love and admiration for the one succeeding.

That's how it's meant to be in the Body of Christ. "If one member of the body is honored, all rejoice together" (1 Cor.12:26).  And all members of the body are necessary and of value:  "the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indespensible ... that there may be no discord in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another" (1 Cor.12:22,26).  The only competition we should concern ourselves with is to "love one another with brotherly affection; outdo one another in showing honor" (Rom.12:10).

Just my thoughts.  I would like to hear yours.

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