Daily Reflection
August 17th, 2002
John Schlegel, S.J.
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.

Ezekiel 18:1-10, 13, 30-32
Psalm 51:12-13, 14-15, 18-19
Matthew 19:13-15

Jesus waits for us with open arms!  The Lord waits to embrace us, to heal us, and to make us whole.  It sounds so simple and so promising, yet it does not always happen.  Things get in the way, people get in the way, and we get in our own way.  

In today’s Gospel the children are brought to Jesus so he might bless them, but the disciples try to stop them.  They are so possessive of the Lord’s attention; they try to keep others from him.  There were “institutional” barriers to Jesus, even then.  Yet Jesus beckons the little ones forward and in doing so lays hands on them and proclaims, “The kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”  

For us who seek the Lord there are barriers to be overcome.  Today’s readings give us hints on how to overcome some of those barriers.  The God of the Hebrew scripture says, “All lives are mine.”  We are all made for God.  And we can attain the love of God if we “do what is right and just.”  For Ezekiel and the other prophets justice is a hugely important mark of a person close to God.  To be a woman or man who acts justly is to be close to God.  Act with justice and “create for yourself a new heart and a new spirit and return to me and live,” says the Lord God.  So that is what we must be about:  transforming heart and spirit.  We must become loving, compassionate and attentive to the needs of others.  We must create a free, happy and joy-filled spirit as we attempt to live a life based on Gospel values.  

Artificial and man-made barriers that keep us from God fade in the presence of a clear conscience, a contrite heart, and a humble, yet, joy-filled spirit.  Such was the disposition of the “children” brought to Jesus.  And the kingdom of God belongs to them.

Jesus waits for us to come to him; the Lord waits to embrace us.  The Lord waits to say to each of us, “The kingdom belongs to such as you!”

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