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Matthew 18:1-5, 10

The Word of God

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ He called a child, whom he put among them, and said, ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.
‘Take care that you do not despise one of these little ones; for, I tell you, in heaven their angels continually see the face of my Father in heaven'.

Matthew 18:1-5, 10
  • Some thoughts on today's scripture

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    • It is a competitive world, but God’s love is creative and its fruits are shared with us. May we have child-like hearts that are open to imagination, surprise and wonder. We pray to be become more receptive to God’s loving care and protection in our relationship with each other as God’s children.
    • Children are to be loved, cherished and respected. They are dependent and know whom to trust. We are aware of the many times this message is not heard and this causes sorrow. Lord give us the humility to acknowledge the gifts that will help us and the forgiveness of our failings.
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    • Small children know that they are utterly dependent on the kindness of others to nurture and sustain them. In telling us to become like little children, Jesus calls us to open and trusting dependence on God, secure in the knowledge that God will meet our needs – sometimes needs that we do not even know that we have.
    • The first prayer that many of us learned was the prayer to our Guardian Angel, whose existence Jesus so powerfully testifies to in this reading. For many, that prayer is relegated to the dusty shelves of memory as something ‘childish’. Today might be a good day to bring the old prayer back into daily practice!
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    • Jesus sets the bar for entrance into the kingdom quite high: we must change and become like little children. Where do I need to change most? Ours is a world of narcissists, where so many are engrossed by themselves and their importance, so that being like a child is really counter-cultural. I ask for light and wisdom to see where and how I can become like a little child.
    • Jesus warns us to respect children. I let myself feel sorrow at the scandal of child abuse, within and without the Church. I pray for the victims and the abusers, and for our leaders, humbly and compassionately. I consider how I look at the children present in my life.
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    • Today's feast of the Guardian Angels celebrates God's loving care of each one of us, in the form of the angels. He sends them to guide and protect us.
    • The 'clue' to understanding the message of Kingdom which Jesus preaches is to be found in the status of children. There is a directness about them, and the way they relate, that we need to re-learn. The child sees the world as it really is, without all the complications that adults put in the way.
    • “I tell you, in heaven their angels continually see the face of my Father in heaven”. Earlier, Matthew tells us “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:8). When and how, in my own life have I 'seen the face of God'?
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    • In today’s gospel Jesus confused his disciples. He pointed at the gifts of children, their innocence, humility and honesty, as the mark of true greatness. The clear heart and the simple honesty of a child makes us sit up and pay attention and smile in admiration.
    • Am I free to challenge my friends, my family or my work colleagues with a child-like fearlessness when my heart tells me that there is something not right?
    • I might pause in silence to reflect on the true greatness to be found in a child, and pray for those who have children in their care.
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    • Jesus cares for us individually through our guardian angel. Do I believe that I am personally cared for by God? To believe this is a great gift of faith. We are asked to trust God like little children, whose nature is to trust.
    • I can thank God for his care – observing the signs of it in my life, and ask him to help me develop a deeper relationship with him.
  • Some thoughts on today's scripture

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    • Anything weak, small or voiceless is likely to be overlooked. I ask the Holy Spirit to shed light on my life so that I might see as Jesus sees, recognising the small voices, the tender shoots and the fragile beginnings where God is already at work in me.
    • How might I change and become like a little child? I take this question to heart as it carries an invitation from Jesus. I let the childlike characteristics of trust, joy, wonder and fun speak to me as God wants them to.