Daily Reflection
August 12th, 2003
Howie Kalb, S.J.
Jesuit Community
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Deuteronomy 31:1-8
Deuteronomy 32:3-4, 7, 8, 9, 12
Matthew 18:1-5, 10, 12-14

On reading today’s Gospel, one might question why Jesus wants us to be like “little children?”  Couldn’t the Lord have found a better analogy with which to challenge his apostle and us?  Perhaps it was because of the qualities commonly found in “little Children” before they reach the age of reason. 

“Little children” are innocent.  The baptized baby is made a member of Christ’s Mystical Body, an heir to the Kingdom of Heaven and loved unconditionally by God.  The “little child” remains such before the age of the use of reason and is impossible of being separated from Almighty God.  This same innocence for our entire life is the type of relationship the Lord would love to have with each of us. 

“Little children” are trusting.  During this same time the child is completely dependent on the parents or caregiver.  They receive love, nurture and protection without any obligation to reciprocate.  In God’s providence this trusting relationship gives praise and glory to God.  Don’t we believe he created us for our well-being and happiness?  But we are helpless to share this relationship with him unless we totally trust him and really allow God to be God.

“Little children” are content.  A “little child” is not aware of the thousands of wants his nature could desire or demand.  For “little children” the only source of help and sustenance is what the parents provide.  Children really have no other choice.  This is true even when they hurt or are weary.  For us, this childlike condition of contentment would involve our willing acceptance of whatever happens to us beyond our control.  As Job says: “We accept good things from God; and should we not accept evil?”  After all, God is in control and we believe his creative wish is unequivocally for the well-being and happiness of each of us.

Finally, when Jesus suggested that we be like “little children” he was really asking a lot of us.  It takes so much faith and courage.  It means we truly have to let God be God.  However, what follows is also clear.  The more we become like “little children” the more joy, peace and security we experience in this life and even more so in life everlasting. 

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