Matthew 18:1-5, 10, 12-14
These past few days the Church has been fed by the Sacred Scriptures that remind us that Jesus is the bread of life and that anyone who is nourished by this living bread will never die. Such a promise is almost too much to believe, isn’t it? The interesting thing is that, in the Gospel for today’s celebration of the Eucharist, reminds us, on the heels of these “Bread of Life” passages, that “unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven.”
A few years ago, I had the opportunity to celebrate Mass in the home of a wonderful young couple celebrating their thirteenth wedding anniversary. Really it was just a chance to get all the family together and just celebrate being family! This is something that this lovely couple, their brothers and sisters, and parents, are very accustomed to doing. Any occasion means a celebration, a party, a chance to be together as family. Naturally, being young families, there were about a dozen children ranging in age from fifteen to three months! When I spoke to the littlest children sitting around the living room altar about Jesus being the bread of life and how wonderful it is to be able to (one day) receive him in Holy Communion, there was not the least look of doubt or skepticism on their innocent, accepting, and eager faces. The little ones could believe in this great mystery of our faith in ways that we who are older and “more mature” could ever do!
Could this be what Jesus means when he says that we must be like little children? Does he mean that somehow we must regain a simpler acceptance of the mystery of our faith? I can’t tell you how refreshing it was to see such acceptance on the faces of the little children. Now the question is, how do we get that back? How do we become like the little children once again?
Fr. Pat Brennan, C.P. is the director of St. Paul of the Cross Passionist Retreat Center, Detroit, Michigan.