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. What do you think? If a shepherd has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost.
Today is Tuesday the 13 August, in the Nineteenth Week of Ordinary Time.
One Hope Project sings, ‘Abba Father’.
Today’s reading is from the Gospel of Matthew.
This reading is full of reversals. A little child becomes the symbol of greatness, one sheep is more important than ninety nine. This is crazy – it flies in the face of all our usual notions of what’s big and what’s small in our scale of values. Can you take it on board and allow the ways of the world to be turned upside down? How does it feel to do that?
Jesus insists that God our loving Father wants no one to be lost. Our world is full of ‘little ones’ – people who count for nothing, who are routinely ignored. We also carry a child inside ourselves – the vulnerable person within. What is Jesus telling us about the way we treat fragility when we meet it?
As you hear this reading again, what thoughts and feelings come to you? Who are ‘the little ones’ in your life? Is there anything at risk of being lost? What does it mean to be humble like a child?
Jesus speaks words of reassurance, of God as a Father who protects and values even what is most insignificant. How do you find yourself wanting to respond to this way of looking at people, at yourself?