The Littlest Apostles
“See that you do not despise one of these little ones,
for I say to you that their angels in heaven always
look upon the face of my heavenly Father ... it is not
the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little
ones be lost.”
(St. Matthew 18:9-14)
Jesus and the children!
often, implicitly or explicitly, Jesus invokes children as exemplars
in God's Kingdom. So much so, in fact, that He admonishes
us against despising any of them in their littleness.
It is likely
that you have heard many sermons and read many reflections, on the
Scriptural verse that
become as little children, you shall not enter into the Kingdom”
(St. Matthew 18.3)
that Christ is not asking us to simply “go out and play”, or to
speak in the vernacular of children.
We have listened
and we have yawned. “Of course”.
We know the
unfeigned love and simple trust of children. It touches us (or ought
to touch us) deeply. We are indicted by it in our “adult” love that
is largely mathematical in nature and a matter of quid pro quo,
a giving and an expected receiving, a balance between self-giving,
that is more often a fulcrum leveraging our own advantage. A child
most often gives without counting, loves as a matter of spontaneity,
and not measure. Children are terrible at math. Thank God. They
know nothing of fulcrums and levers and the like, of using their
love to ends other than love.
We do. We
adults. And the children shame us, remind us of something clear,
untainted, uncalculated, that we instinctively recognize as something
we have lost, and we lament it ... even as we esteem ourselves too
wise to return to that innocence.
We are motivated
by a child's loving trust. It moves us to be greater than we are,
to go beyond our narrow interests – to enact the fulfillment
of that trust, of what is anticipated of us by the child — to something
noble and good within us.
That is why
we are not to despise them. They call us, in their littleness, in
their uncalculated love, in the simplicity of their trust, to
become the image of God. Of goodness. Of responsiveness to
love and trust.
That is also
why they are our exemplars. They are the unwitting Apostles.
They proclaim an invincible, an incredibly powerful evangel that
only God can proclaim through them and it is His: love, trust, God.
Be good. Do not deceive. Throw away your calculator. Expect what
you ask for in love. Accept what is denied you in love.
world of politics and primacy and power — this is our world
... the world of adults. And we've made quite a mess of it. I cannot
think of one child who has screwed up the world, and not made it
more beautiful for his or her presence. Unfortunately, by our example
they become like us — when Jesus tells us that by their example
we should become like them!
their very Angels behold the Face of His Father in Heaven. Yours
... well, ours ... may well be hiding in shame, not because they
have failed Him, but because we have failed them.
No, no! The children!
Boston Catholic Journal
Totally Faithful to the Sacred
Deposit of Faith entrusted to the Holy See in
opera tua ... quia modicum habes virtutem, et servasti
verbum Meum, nec non negasti Nomen Meum”
know your works ... that you have but little power,
and yet you have kept My word, and have not denied My
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