At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ He called a child, whom he put among them, and said, ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.
- Matthew 18:1-5
I teach 6th graders. Although they are not "little children" as described in Matthew's gospel today being around them all day is a constant lesson in humility, patience, and kindness. In fact, I think of teachers as being a pretty humble bunch. I can't imagine a group of teachers asking the question posed by the disciples. 'Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" - wondering who is the most important or most powerful in the classroom. Teachers do not spend their day worried about prestige or status but work to encourage and welcome children as Jesus commanded the disciples. During Jesus' day, children were not seen as important or valued. Barbara Brown Taylor explained, "Jesus's comparison of a child to greatness would have been baffling to the disciples." The disciples were told to tend to sick, lame, and outcasts of all types and now children!
I am grateful to God that I have been called to care for children as a mother and a teacher. However, Jesus asks us not just to tend to children but to be childlike in our humility and total dependence on God and that is the key to being the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. "Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me."
Musical Reflection - What About Us - Pink - One Voice Children's Choir