Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, September 19
In the Infinite Love Which Our Lord Has for Both You and Me, May He Teach Us the Way of Childlike Humility, Simplicity and Purity of Heart, So That We May Find That Ultimate and Perfect Joy in Him.
At different times in our Scriptures, our Lord speaks about being childlike – “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” “Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” And today we hear, “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me…”
What does it mean to be childlike? What is it within a child’s nature that pleases God?
For most of us, being able to pay the bills, being able to put bread on the table for the needs of the family, requires that we conform to a set of societal rules. We must meet certain conditions so that, prayerfully, we may have steady employment. We must be able to qualify under certain financial criteria in order to provide a roof over the heads of ourselves and our loved ones.
We live in a very complex and rule-oriented society. In most cases, to succeed requires that we conform ourselves to the cultural system in which we live. And, in most cases, that is the way it has always been.
However, in every generation, there are people who go one step further. In the material world in which we find ourselves, there are those who pride themselves on the accomplishments they have achieved, especially in a world or in a society where survival oftentimes depends upon one’s ability to overcome the odds, where survival oftentimes is dependent upon one’s ability to not only meet but to even outclass the competition.
Now, I am not saying that there is anything wrong about striving to be the best at what we do, as long as the goal does not become the unconditional absolute in our lives, as long as the efforts in achieving our goal does not separate us from our Christian teachings!
In the world in which we live today, secularistic ideals and materialistic wealth and success become not only a goal, but even a “god” of sorts for many who constantly struggle to stay on top, who constantly strive to be the best in whatever endeavor they might choose to pursue.
And this earthly pursuit of being successful, which may even involve the cost of one’s own soul, “flies in the face”, in other words contradicts what our Lord is speaking about today when He places His arms around a young child.
Which of us has not been filled with wonder at holding a newborn baby in our arms? Life – precious and so beautiful, pure, innocent and spotless – such a wondrous gift, all the result of the beauty of love.
Oh, if only such purity would continue throughout the child’s life into adulthood! Sadly, however, the evil of materialistic gains and deviant sexual pleasures is so rampant in this world, that all we sometimes hear about is abducted children, child pornography, and pedophilia – abuses which cut at the very heart and soul of the child, exploitations which drive a deep wedge between God and the abuser.
Today, Jesus teaches us to reflect upon the purity of childlike innocence as a condition in attaining eternal life. In His own words, our Lord tells us, “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me.”
And in another place, Jesus says, “Things that cause sin will inevitably occur, but woe to the person through whom they occur. It would be better for him if a millstone were put around his neck and he be thrown into the sea than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin.”
For we find that within the hearts of small children there is no greed, no lust, no discrimination, no sin. Within such innocence, we find only a purity of heart which is filled with goodness and honesty, love and an unquestioning trust – a true and wondrous joy to behold!
And when we open our hearts to each other, as an innocent child reaching out to another, then our Lord’s words in today’s Gospel teach us about the mind of God, Himself. These words become as a beacon of light, guiding each of us on our respective journeys, guiding us in our life of faith.
Even Saint James, in our Second Reading, is telling us that the problems we have in our families, in our society, in the world in which we live – all come from within us:
“Where do the wars and where do the conflicts among you come from? Is it not from your passions that make war within your members? You covet but do not possess. You kill and envy but you cannot obtain; you fight and wage war. You do not possess because you do not ask. You ask but do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.”
Sadly, within today’s world, we are witnesses to the evil which comes from within the hearts of those who have given themselves over to the prince of lies, Satan himself, who has deceived untold numbers of God’s children into believing an unholy and an ungodly truth, a perversion in human behavior which denies the gentleness and wondrous mercy of God’s unfathomable Love.
And yet, if each of us had the mind of a child – the purity, the love, the humility, and the trust which a young child has for his or her parents, our lives would be filled with peace and gentleness – we would find ourselves more inclined to be trusting and virtuous in our every thought, word and deed.
Instead, however, many find themselves distrusting; many find themselves filled with envy, lust and pride, even hatred – a darkness which pollutes the soul and about which we read from the Book of Wisdom today. It is a darkness which does not give us peace. It is a darkness which does not provide us with true happiness.
Being childlike in a world which oftentimes appears void of innocence is no different than being Christ-like in a world which wishes to deny the very teachings of Christ.
Loving and giving of oneself selflessly through acts of kindness, and then being persecuted for our humility, is no different than what Christ Jesus Himself lived and taught, giving each of us the example to follow. He ultimately faced and endured hostility and persecution which awaited Him, as it does many of God’s faithful children today.
In our life of faith, and in our daily journeys through this valley of tears in which we find ourselves, the words of today’s psalmist give us hope, “Behold, God is my helper; the Lord sustains my life.”
He sustains each of us through the Sacraments which He freely offers. We receive His Divine Mercy in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. He nourishes and sustains us in the Sacrament of His Most Holy Body and Blood, strengthening us in our daily struggle to remain childlike of heart, mind, body and soul.
It should be our prayer, always and at all times, that each of us – in whatever walk of life we may find ourselves, on whatever journey we may be traveling – should strive for that innocence and purity of heart which can only lead us into a closer communion, into a more intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.
In the Infinite Love which our Lord has for both you and me, may He give us His Most Holy Spirit to teach us the way of childlike humility, simplicity and purity of heart, so that we may find that ultimate and perfect joy in Him, who loves each of us beyond all human measure of understanding.
And in our childlike nature, may God’s Eternal Light shine through both you and me, so that others may experience His Love, so that others may be led to embracing His Truth, and that all of us may truly become adopted children of Our Heavenly Father, heirs to eternal life.
May God bless you, God love you, and may God always keep you. †
Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.
Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.
Scripture for the Day
- “…Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3)
- “Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:4)
- “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me.” (Mark 9:37)
- “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (Matthew 23:12)
- “[Jesus] said to his disciples, ‘Things that cause sin will inevitably occur, but woe to the person through whom they occur. It would be better for him if a millstone were put around his neck and he be thrown into the sea than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin.’” (Luke 17:1-2)
- “Where do the wars and where do the conflicts among you come from? Is it not from your passions that make war within your members? You covet but do not possess. You kill and envy but you cannot obtain; you fight and wage war. You do not possess because you do not ask. You ask but do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” (James 4:1-3)
- “With violence and torture let us put him to the test that we may have proof of his gentleness and try his patience…These were their thoughts, but they erred; for their wickedness blinded them.” (Wisdom 2:19, 21)
- “You will be hated by all because of my name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved.” (Matthew 10:22)
- “It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22b)
- “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us.” (Romans 8:18)
- “God is present as my helper; the Lord sustains my life…Then I will…give thanks to your name, LORD, for it is good. Because it has rescued me from every trouble.” (Psalm 54:6, 8-9a)
Prayer for the Day
“O Sovereign GoodnessSaint Jane Frances de Chantal
of the Sovereign Providence of my God!
I abandon myself forever to Your arms.
Whether gentle or severe,
lead me henceforth wherever You will.
“I will not regard the way through which You will have me pass,
but keep my eyes fixed upon You, my God, who guides me.
My soul finds no rest without the arms
and the bosom of this Heavenly Providence,
my true Mother, my Strength and my Rampart.
“Therefore, I resolve with Your Divine assistance,
O my Savior, to follow Your desires and Your ordinances,
without regarding or examining why You do this rather than that;
but I will blindly follow You according to Your Divine will,
without seeking my own inclinations…Amen.”