Let us Lectio: Imitation of the Child Jesus
Feast of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, Oct. 1, 2019
Steps to Lectio Divina
Start by using these steps to reflect on the Scripture verse. Then read my meditation slowly.
Lectio: Having asked for the grace to hear God's word, read the passage twice.
Meditatio: During the second reading, pause whenever so moved and reflect on a word, a sentence, or an image that strikes you.
Oratio: Speak directly to God, and open your reflection to Him.
Contemplatio: Listen contemplatively for any response God might choose to make. Remember that God responds to us at times with loving silence.
From the Gospel for October 1, 2019, Feast of St.Therese of the Child Jesus (Matthew 8:1-4)
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 humbles himself like this child
is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven."
Who is the greatest?
The question put before Jesus comes shortly after His repeated singling out of Peter (Matthew 16:16; 16:18-19) and just after Jesus chose Peter, James, and John to witness His transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-8). The other nine disciples meanwhile remained below to unsuccessfully attend to a man afflicted by a demon (Matthew 17:14-20). Perhaps this combination of attention toward a select few and chastisement of ill-motivated and ill-directed efforts prompted this childish question of who is the greatest. Regardless of its catalyst, the squabbling had begun among them and reached a point that they sought Jesus to settle the argument. Jesus brought forward a little child as the focal point of His answer.
We naturally expect children to quickly (and without arguing) change their errant ways and to imitate their elders. But these grown men who have come to Jesus to settle the argument and to take sides are not acting as obedient children, but rather insolently and rebelliously.
We praise the gentle child who learns from correction quickly, in part so that we may teach them more, and in part because we experience the blessing of peace in our household. However, it is not just any child we are called to emulate, but the child Jesus. Jesus invites these men, and us, to respond to God the Father in imitation of Jesus’ own relationship with His Father. For it is only through this faithful and trusting relationship that we will be able to enter the kingdom and to grow in holiness.
St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus knew well the child-like love of Jesus. And by the holiness of her life and her writings, she reminds the Church of the splendor of the joyful humility of Christ and how we are invited to participate in it with our lives. But more fundamentally, Jesus goes so far as to warn that without these traits of humility before God, without joyful conversion to His commandments “you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” These are the signs of a true disciple. His warning indicates that anything less is the action of a willful child seeking his own way rather than choosing God the Father.
Callie Nowlin, MTS, is a regular contributor to the North Texas Catholic.
Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.