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.
"If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of stumbling blocks! Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to the one by whom the stumbling block comes!
"If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life maimed or lame than to have two hands or two feet and to be thrown into the eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into the hell of fire." Matthew 18:1-9
This is what my sister Sherry wrote to me recently after she noticed I had been in Navajoland. "Second homeland for you, Carol. When you were 4 months old we visited for a short time at the Navajo school where you were passed around one student to the next as they remembered infant siblings left at home and wept, laughed and cooed over you. Wherever you were, student snuck away to catch a glimpse of you and asked to hold you. I have a picture etched into my mind of Mom sitting in a chair in the kitchen of Ganado Indian Residential School with you on her lap feeding you a bottle of juice and one by one children slipping out of breakfast to sit at her feet with utter amazement and joy on their faces as she sang hymns and said hello. One girl turned to me as she went by me. "She looks like my mother and baby sister," she whispered as she headed toward the ever widening circle and sat down. A teacher and cook tried to shoo them but Mom said "They're just homesick and not bothering me." Such a tableau". My mother understood what it was to be a child apart from family, from their mothers and their siblings. She had spent time in the east without her mother and her family and it left her with a permanent compassion for lost children.
Jesus talked to his disciples, and to us today about being humble like children. That entails an honest vulnerability, a willingness to be open about our needs and our lacks as well as our simple joys. God invites us today to know the Divine by opening our hearts as children do. To trust and to hope again, and to reach out to those who remind us of home and the love we are missing. Our Creator, the most loving parent invites us to that place of honest need and deep compassion, where our longing for home becomes our motivation for love and care.
Today, I ask God to help me be always humble and child like in everything I do. May we live each day with the vulnerability of a child, asking God for every need. And may we know our isolations and aches as our need for God today.