True Greatness

– Tuesday 19th Week in Ordinary Time –

‘Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”’  [Matthew 18:3]

An interesting point in today’s gospel reading is the missing verse. In most scripture translations, Matthew chapter 18 has no verse 11. Footnotes explain, “Other ancient authorities add verse 11 “For the Son of Man came to save the lost”. This is like a missing link between what seems like two different themes here.

The first is about greatness. “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” the disciples ask. Jesus responds by saying that to be great they need to change and become like children. Become like children? How? The quality that Jesus highlights is that of humility. “Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:5)

I have heard people say that a childlike faith is one that does not question or seek explanations. That doesn’t sound much like the kids I know. They frequently ask questions and want explanations. “But why” is a mantra with many children. And the disciples weren’t backward in asking questions and wanting explanations. I’d like to think it is more about being inquisitive, imaginative, receptive to new ideas.

The second theme of today’s Gospel is conveyed via the parable of the lost sheep: Jesus came to save the lost, like a shepherd seeking out a lost sheep.

Jesus asks the disciples “What do you think?” Indeed, what do we think? Does Jesus really call us to go out of our way to seek out and save those who have gone astray like the good shepherd does here? How can we be humble and trusting like children?


by Elizabeth Harrington

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