At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked him, «Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?». Then Jesus called a little child, set the child in the midst of the disciples, and said, «I assure you that unless you change and become like little children, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes lowly like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, and whoever receives such a child in my name receives me. See that you do not despise any of these little ones, for I tell you: their angels in heaven continually see the face of my heavenly Father. What do you think of this? If someone has a hundred sheep and one of them strays, won’t he leave the ninety-nine on the hillside, and go to look for the stray one? And I tell you: when he finally finds it, he is more pleased about it than about the ninety-nine that did not get lost. It is the same with your Father in heaven: there they don't want even one of these little ones to be lost».
«It is the same with your Father in heaven: there they don't want even one of these little ones to be lost»
Fr. Valentí ALONSO i Roig
Today, once more, the Gospel reveals to us God's heart. It gives us to understand the feelings the Father in Heaven reacts with, in relation to his children. His most impassionate concern is for the small ones, those, which nobody ever pays any attention to, those who do not attain wherever the rest of the world does. We already knew that the Father, as the good Father He is, has a preference for the small children, but to day we can recognize another wish of the Father that becomes compulsory for us: «I assure you that unless you change and become like little children, you cannot enter the kingdom of Heaven» (Mt 18:3).
We, therefore, realize that what the Father values the most is not so much "being small", as "becoming lowly". «Whoever becomes lowly (...) is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven» (Mt 18:4). This is why we can see our responsibility in this action of becoming lowly. It is not a matter of having been created small or simple, limited or more or less capable, but of being able to keep off any eventual greatness while remaining to the level of the humbler and simpler. The actual importance of each one consists in resembling one of those small ones Jesus introduces us to.
Last but not least, the Gospel teaches us today another lesson. There are, and closer to us than we think! some "small ones" that we may eventually have more forsaken than others: those that are like sheep gone astray; the Father looks for them and, when He finds them, He is more pleased because they come back home and do not go stray any more. Perhaps, if we should try to look at those surrounding us more as sheep sought and found by the Father than just sheep gone astray, we could also see more often and closer God's face. St. Asterius of Amasea tells us: «The parable of the lost sheep and the shepherd teaches us that we must not easily despair of those who are in danger or be slow to help them» .