The WORD in other words (2021) by Fr. Dindo Santiago, SVD (Japan)
“All grown-ups were once children… but few of them remember it” (The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry). Two thousand years before the author wrote about this, Jesus already spoke of it in today’s Gospel.
“Unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”
As a child relates to others with pure innocence, so we are called to turn away from sin and build relationships with a purity of heart. This means sincerity and truthfulness in our relationship with God and with neighbors.
“Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
As a child follows his parents obediently, so we are called to humble submissiveness to God. As we journey towards maturity when we grow in wealth, knowledge, and power, humility and obedience to God can become more challenging to practice. But for a child who barely has anything for himself, a word from his parents becomes everything for him.
“Whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.”
As a child depends on his parents, so we are called to total dependence on God. We trust in His providence, often through the help of others. Consequently, we also become aware of the people around us in need.
We can never turn back time and go back to the days when we were children. We can never become children again by age. But the consolation in our Gospel for today is that, as the Little Prince aptly puts it, “all of us were once children.” Therefore, to be childlike is within us and remains in our hearts. The Lord has spoken. We only need to remember it and live it out.