Daily Reflection
October 2nd, 2004
Michele Millard
Cardoner at Creighton
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My husband and I find ourselves as “tweeners”—we are in the stage between children and grandchildren!  We have three sons that are now young men and yet it is too soon to be looking forward to grandchildren.   Consequently, we have to vicariously enjoy the children of our neighbors and friends as we miss the joy and exuberance a child brings to life.  Just the other evening, we met some friends for ice cream who are parents of a wonderful 2 ½ year old boy.  They had heightened his anticipation of our arrival and as we walked up, he ran toward us with his whole body like only a toddler can do and greeted us with unabashed joy.  In that moment, all was right with the world because we took on the perspective of a two year old child. 

Jesus had a special love and affection for children, because he saw in them all the hope and potential of a human being in relationship with God, something that sometimes gets buried and jaded in an adult.  In today’s reading from Matthew, the disciples were at it again as they argued about who was going to be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. They were, I’m sure, comparing one another in terms of who Jesus spent the most time with, who had given up the most, who had been present at the most miracles, or who Jesus loved the most.  Once again, they were missing the point of who Jesus was and what he was about.  So, in his frustration with them, he asked a child to sit down among them as an illustration of what Jesus desired for his people---the heart and perspective of a child.   What a shock for the disciples, because a child is really antithetical to anything that the world values or honors. Yet, Jesus was looking at all the wonderful attributes of children as those that created a heart for his kingdom.  These characteristics might include:

1.  An open heart:  Children experience love with their whole being and have the gift of both giving and receiving love freely.  They are a picture of unconditional love, forgiving quickly and completely. 
2.  Trust:  Children willingly put their trust in the hands of loving parents, believing that they will be cared for in a secure and safe relationship. 
3. Dependence:  Children are dependent upon their parents for every need in life and they have faith that their parents are reliable and trustworthy.  In their dependence, they experience humility in the purest form. 
4. Curiosity:  When children are in a safe and loving environment, they have the ability to explore and learn about their world and other people as they grow and develop.
5.  Purity:  Children, in their innocence, have a sense of purity about them in that they have not yet learned a sense of jadedness or defensiveness toward life.  They are clean slates before relationships and experiences of life scar them.

Jesus was asking his disciples---and us---to change our direction and to turn our definition of what makes greatness upside down. He wants us to take on the heart of a child in our relationship with him.  He desires our continual, daily conversion to a childlike state characterized by an open heart, trust, dependence on him, the ability to grow in our relationship with him and purity in our response to his love.  That’s really what greatness is all about.  

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