‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’


Jesus taught his disciples that in order to enter the kingdom of heaven a person must ‘become like little children’ and must ‘never despise any of these little ones.’ For ‘it is never the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost.’  {Matthew 18:1-5, 10, 12-14}

But how do we become like little children? And who are these little ones? And how are these little ones lost?

Becoming like a little child is less about intellect and responsibility and more about simple faith, matured in prayer and sacrament. We all know that there is a non-believing element in our society; this element, however, is divided among the respectful and the curious, and the disrespectful and the deceitful. Two examples should suffice. Penn Gillette, a famous comedian and magician, is a self avowed non-believer. Yet he holds total respect for what religion and faith have done for civilized people of good will for the greater benefit of society. Holding the faith of a little child in his presence is no scandal, and opens up opportunities to witness to the faith, even if only through charitable actions. On the other hand we have Bill Maher, a famous comedian and political advocate for progressivism. For Mr. Maher there is nothing more scandalous, and more worthy of mockery and persecution, than the pure Christian faith of a ‘little one.’ In Mr. Maher’s presence, and in the presence of his ilk, child like faith is open to ridicule, rejection, and full blown persecution.

Child like faith, therefore, is not a waif-like, carefree,  kumbaya, wimpy, pacifist experience, like a return to a ‘Godspell’ hippy discipleship. Childlike faith is more like the faith of a martyr. Childlike faith is seeing Jesus in a fellow concentration camp victim, like Maximillian Kolbe. Childlike faith is forgiving your rapist and murderer, like St. Maria Goretti.

Childlike faith is the faith of the Son of God, Crucified for our sins, and for His undying Love for our Father.

‘Little ones’ are definitely children. Children who need to be born, not aborted. Children who need both parents, mom and dad. Children who need adoption. Children who need a good education, guided by their parents in both academics and faith. Children who need protection from predators, terrorists, and starvation.

Yet some of these ‘little ones’ aren’t so little. The elderly and the handicapped need to be protected from euthanasia. The elderly need social security, and social acceptance. Age must be re-associated with Wisdom, and no longer cast into the Dead Sea of retirement homes. I fully understand that this can only come with a better economy–since families are struggling to survive. But sacrifice must reappear in our society. The new swimming pool can wait. Having grandma and grandpa in the house a few more years is…like the TV commercial…priceless.

‘Little ones’ can also be genuine disciples of Christ. For they appear to the eyes of secular society as ‘little’ in their humility and faithfulness to Christ’s Church. Society, furthermore, belittles them because they don’t accept the ‘fundamental change’ forced upon them in profane marriages and the norms of a culture immersed in death.

These ‘little ones’ are being persecuted every day.

Finally, ‘little ones’ are lost in the obvious sense in abortion and euthanasia, in the persecution of Christians in the Middle East and Africa, and through the proliferation of atheistic-materialism in America. Yet, in a subtle way, more ‘little ones’ are lost through the failures of clergy, religious, and supposedly devout laity when they compromise the faith and cause scandal through sin.

We are all ‘little ones’ when we repent. God’s Mercy is big enough for all the ‘little ones’ of Creation. Yet, in free will, some choose to perish. And others choose to take a few ‘little ones’ down with them.

Let us pray for the grace to be, and protect, the ‘littleness’ so beloved of God.

God bless!




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