GREATEST IN THE KINGDOM
Ezekiel is told to eat the scroll with the prophecies he has to make to the people of God. That means, he has to be filled with its message. It contains bitter utterances, because he has to make the people face the truth of their infidelities, but at the same time it tastes sweet to the prophet because he takes up his mission without protest, for he is doing what he has to do.
For Jesus, a child counts, as God loves what is little. They are the greatest in the kingdom of God, on account of their simple wisdom, their lack of pretension, their spontaneity and their humility. Sinners too are among the little ones, in another sense: low before God – what have they given him? Yet none of them should be lost. In us, the child should survive in the good sense. Are we not placing obstacles in the way of the kingdom on account of our sophistication and pretenses?
Great and holy God,
you stoop down to us,
fallible and limited people,
and your preference goes
to children and the humble.
Give us the heart of a child,
unpretentious and receptive, trusting and believing,
that we may become wise with your wisdom
and grow up to the full human size
of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen!
1 Reading – EZEKIEL 2:8—3:4
The Lord GOD said to me: As for you, son of man, obey me when I speak to you: be not rebellious like this house of rebellion, but open your mouth and eat what I shall give you. It was then I saw a hand stretched out to me, in which was a written scroll which he unrolled before me. It was covered with writing front and back, and written on it was: Lamentation and wailing and woe! He said to me: Son of man, eat what is before you; eat this scroll, then go, speak to the house of Israel. So I opened my mouth and he gave me the scroll to eat. Son of man, he then said to me, feed your belly and fill your stomach with this scroll I am giving you. I ate it, and it was as sweet as honey in my mouth. He said: Son of man, go now to the house of Israel, and speak my words to them.
Responsorial PSALM 119:14, 24, 72, 103, 111, 131
R. (103a) How sweet to my taste is your promise!
In the way of your decrees I rejoice,
as much as in all riches. R.
Yes, your decrees are my delight;
they are my counselors. R.
The law of your mouth is to me more precious
than thousands of gold and silver pieces. R.
How sweet to my palate are your promises,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!
How sweet to my taste is your promise!
Your decrees are my inheritance forever;
the joy of my heart they are. R.
I gasp with open mouth,
in my yearning for your commands. R.
Alleluia MATTHEW 11:29AB
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am meek and humble of heart.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel – MATTHEW 18:1-5, 10, 12-14
The disciples approached Jesus and said, “Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?” He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me. “See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father. What is your opinion? If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills and go in search of the stray? And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it than over the ninety-nine that did not stray. In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost.”
Survival of the Weakest
Darwinian theory has taught us that evolution became possible through the dynamics of the survival of the fittest. The weak, the sick, and the little in every species were hung out to dry, while evolution favoured the strong, the healthy, the powerful. And, thus the evolution has reached the level of the human species, where a qualitative shift has taken place: in humans, evolution has become conscious of itself. Is there a further evolution? There must be! However, every attempt by this conscious evolution to favour the strong, the healthy, and the powerful has only served us to evolve backwards! Perhaps the next level of evolution, which seems to be towards greater spiritualization, must embrace the reverse of the principle of the survival of the fittest. It must embrace the survival of the weakest. The spiritual evolution can only work along the dynamics of kenosis, which Christ has modelled for us (cf. Phil. 2: 4-11) and teaches us today by the example of a little child.
– For those who are the greatest in the Church, that they may serve with great dedication and without looking down on them, the weakest, the poorest, those wounded in life, we pray:
– For all of us, that like Jesus, by loving them and praying for them, we may place in our midst children, the poor, the humble and all who serve, we pray:
– For those working in social welfare institutions, that they may provide shelter and much love for orphans and rejected and abandoned children, we pray:
Prayer over the Gifts
God, our Father,
your Son Jesus voluntarily gave up
all divine honours and privileges
to become one of us and to die our death.
He gives himself to us here
in the form of a humble piece of bread.
Give us the attitude of Jesus,
self-effacing and respectful
before you and one another
and available to all calls and all needs.
We ask you this through Christ our Lord. Amen!
Prayer after Communion
No one as great as you, Lord our God,
has made himself as small as you;
no one as distant as you
has made himself so near to us in our weakness
as you in your Son Jesus Christ.
Make us see your Son
here in this Eucharist and in everyday life.
Make us self-effacing and respectful
before you and before one another
in trust, hope and joy,
like Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen!
Jesus tells us to change and to become like little children. This is not an invitation to become childish, but to learn from children to become spontaneous and trusting toward God and one another, admiring and grateful and expecting all that is good, with the blessing of almighty God, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!