“UNLESS YOU BECOME LIKE CHILDREN, YOU WILL NEVER ENTER THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN (Mt. 18:1-5;10).”
5 ”Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me; 6 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, z it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea…10 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones; for I tell you that in heaven their angels always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven.
The Navarre Bible Commentary to the Gospel of St. Matthew explains the meaning of these passages:
- “vv. 1-6: Clearly the disciples still suffer from human ambition: they want to occupy key positions when Jesus comes to establish his Kingdom on earth (cf. Acts 1:6). To correct their pride, our Lord shows them a child and tells them that if they want to enter the Kingdom of heaven, they must decide to be like children: children are incapable of hating anyone and are totally innocent of vice, particularly of pride, the worst vice of all. They are simple and full of trust.
- Humility is one of the main pillars of the Christian life: “If you ask me”, St Augustine says, “what is the essential thing in the religion and discipline of Jesus Christ, I shall reply: first humility, second humility and third humility” (Letter 118).
- vv. 3-4: Applying these words to our Lord’s virtues, Fray Luis de Granada makes the point that humility is superior to virginity: “If you cannot imitate the virginity of the humble, then imitate the humility of the virgin. Virginity is praiseworthy, but humility is more necessary. The former is recommended to us, the latter is an obligation for us; to the former we are invited, to the latter we are obliged.
- And so we see that the former is celebrated as a voluntary sacrifice, the latter required as an obligatory sacrifice. Lastly, you can be saved without virginity, but not without humility” (Suma de la vida cristiana, book 3, part 2, chap. 10).
- vv. 5: Receiving a child in Jesus’ name is the same as receiving Jesus himself because children reflect the innocence, purity, simplicity and tenderness of our Lord, “In children and in the sick a soul in love sees Him” (J. Escrivá, The Way, 419).”
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