I had a flashback while reading today’s gospel story: “Taking a child, Jesus placed it in their midst, and putting his arms around it, he said to them, ‘Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me.’” For those of us of a certain age, we might remember Art Linkletter’s television show that showcased young children answering questions in a segment called “Kids Say the Darndest Things.” What America loved about his interactions with kids was how refreshing and unvarnished they were. You may recall when one boy answered Art’s question about what happened to Adam and Eve after they ate the apple: “They went to hell and then were sent to Los Angeles.”
The tender selection for today from the Book of Sirach reflects the simple child-like trust that Jesus tries to teach his disciples. The author invites us to be in the presence of God and to trust, to be at peace and know God’s love.
I’m afraid that many of us get tripped up over the refrain in this reading of “Fear the Lord…” Fear in English does not convey anything more than dread of an impending event. But the Hebrew word conveys something much more. It can mean awe or reverence when in the presence of the holy. And awe begins with first seeing. Until we set aside our blinders and all the filters with which we have learned to see the world, we will never see the majesty of God that is all around us. We won’t be able to stand before God in awe and amazement.
We are all unresistingly excited to young children who engage life with eyes wide open in awe. They see as we long ago knew how to see. Today’s scripture is an invitation to see again with child-like eyes, and there before us and all around us amazingly is the awesome presence of God.
Robert Hotz is a consultant with American City Bureau, Inc. and was the Director of The Passion of Christ: The Love That Compels Campaign for Holy Cross Province.