The disciples approached Jesus and said,
“Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?”
He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said,
“Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children,
you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven.
Whoever becomes humble like this child
is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.
And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.
“See that you do not despise one of these little ones,
for I say to you that their angels in heaven
always look upon the face of my heavenly Father.
What is your opinion?
If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray,
will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills
and go in search of the stray?
And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it
than over the ninety-nine that did not stray.
In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father
that one of these little ones be lost.” Matthew 18 1-5, 10, 12-14
I just love today’s gospel. It shows a very tender side of Jesus. I can just picture Him sitting with a child on His lap, absolutely delighting in that little one. There is an artist named Jean Keaton who sketches the most endearing, beautiful pictures of Jesus with children. You can find her artwork at Pictures of Jesus 4 You, by clicking on “sketches.” Her picture of Jesus holding an infant has become my favorite baby shower gift for friends.
The shepherd imagery of Jesus in today’s gospel is surely comforting. To know that God does not want a single one of His precious children to be lost in this mad world tells us about our Father’s tremendous love. He continues to seek out the lost and call to them until they are safe in the fold once again. This is how I know that God hears and will answer my prayers for loved ones who aren’t practicing their faith. It is His will that they not be lost, so I trust that He will answer my prayers in due time.
Lastly, I love this reading, because it reassures us that our guardian angels really do exist! Here, Jesus says that (the children’s) “angels in heaven always look upon the face of My Heavenly Father.” Proof that our guardian angels exist – straight from the Lord’s mouth! Whew! I often talk to mine. It’s good to know I haven’t been talking to myself!