Yesterday morning’s office readings resonated very strongly with my ‘not growing up’ post from Monday. Actually, I read the wrong part of the lectionary for the NT reading and fell upon Matthew 18 : 1-7 rather than the reading of Matthew 24 … but it is interesting that I read this by mistake
Because that reads:
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.‘If any of you put a stumbling-block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of stumbling-blocks! Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to the one by whom the stumbling-block comes!
As I approached this through Lectio Divina I was struck particularly by the line:
Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
As I rolled the words over I became fixated on those words humble like a child.
What is that?
What does the humbleness of a child look like?
And … how do we become humble. whatever humble is?
The dictionary uses words like: not proud or arrogant, modest, a feeling of insignificance, low in status, respectful.
I remember years ago back in the day when I was a member at the Tate. It was the year that the Shibboleth was on display. I noticed adults, those ‘important’ adults, observed the crack, walked around the crack, tried to explain the crack, but at no time did they interact with the crack. Then they would move on.
I noticed the children. The humble, insignificant respectful children who walked around the crack, did not care or try to work out how it was made, they just enjoyed it. They poked hands down it, dropped things in it. while some even fell in it, but they were captivated. Shibboleth had their attention. Their lack of self importance and associated busyness allowed them to be distracted and experience the Shibboleth.
I have observed similar behaviour in many High Streets when a busker or street entertainer appears. It is always the children who stop, or try to stop. The children listening to the music and wanting to stay and watch are pulled along by hurrying parents. But as they move away I have often seen children constantly looking back at what had previously held their attention and has been ripped away from them. It was as if they were totally focussed on the entertainment. Their lack of self importance and associated busyness allowed them to be distracted and experience the busker.
And this causes me to wonder and think aloud …
I wonder if there is something in the act of being humble like a child that brings balance to our ‘self’ attitude. A balance that reminds us we are not the centre of the universe and that, actually, we are not as important as we think we are and ‘YES’ we do have time for this.
The adults rush on, the children wish to stay.
I have contemplated what Christ is saying here. What is it that we are to copy from that humbleness? I wonder if it is the distraction thing.
To be humble, is to be in awe of what you see around you, to be interested in the small bits of beauty that pop up now and again, to accept our place in all this with a realisation that we are not overly important and do not need to charge and rush around.
I think, to be humbled like a child, is to be distracted …
What might our lack of self importance and associated busyness allow us to be distracted by?
Distracted by God?