n this Sunday’s gospel, Jesus shows his disciples a child and says that anyone who welcomes a child in Jesus’ name welcomes Jesus. But what does welcoming a child mean? It does not mean being childish; but rather, it means being child-like. If we do this, we become less calculating, less concerned about our personal dignity or shame, less afraid of failure and death, and less grabbing for power and success. With more of the child quality, we shall be more disposed to take a leap in the dark, to let go. Then, and only then, does believing and following Jesus become possible.
Humility is the most misunderstood virtue of our times. Humility is synonymous with weakness. Being humble doesn’t mean suppression of one’s personal attributes or abject self-depreciation. The humble person knows his place and takes it. The humble person is not afraid to serve. The truth is, the humble person is always waiting and willing to serve. Even in his most triumphant moments, the humble person remembers that all he is and all that he has is from God.
Our culture today, even more than the Hebrew culture in Jesus’ time, is heavily biased towards worldly success. Like the disciples, we are very success oriented, and we measure success by comparing ourselves with others. Jesus challenges us today to make room for the childlike energy of trust, of laughter, of co-operation with one another. Whether we are nine years old or ninety-nine, and whether we are the firstborn, the last born, or the only child of the family, Jesus’ message challenges us all to become young at heart.
The teaching of Christ in this Sunday’s gospel is: “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.” In other words: humility, humility, humility, humility.