Tuesday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time
(Deuteronomy 31:1-8; Matthew 18:1-5.10.12-14)
University students become especially frenzied when their athletic teams are considered the best. This standing is usually measured by polls rating a school "number one.” Anticipating the polls, students will chant incessantly as their teams keep winning, “We’re number one!” Their desire may be called sophomoric in light of today’s gospel.
The disciples come to Jesus with the question, “Who is first in the Kingdom of God?” Pointedly Jesus ignores the concern to give a lesson on service. He tells them that they must humble themselves like a child so that they may respond to the needs of others.
It is sometimes a challenge to get right the idea of self-importance. We want to be appreciated as special for who we are or, at least, for the company we keep. This longing is not bad or mistaken but it is only part of the story. God loves us and so do our parents from conception. But Jesus is reminding us here that being loved does not fulfill our destiny. We are to make use of that love with service to others. Jesus uses the example of a child who responds with eagerness to please their parents. We are to do the same for God and neighbor.