Our Lord used a child to teach his apostles about heaven. They wanted to know who was the greatest in his kingdom. In a childish way, they wondered if it was one of them. They were coming to him as competitors, as if the one who did the most for God would win. But Our Lord showed them a child to let them know it’s the one who is childlike, the one who listens, obeys, and forgets himself, one who follows with innocence and intensity. It is the childlike – not the childish – who treasure today’s feast, because they believe in and rely upon angelic help and protection.
We can easily fall into the same trap the apostles did if we put serving Our Lord ahead of relating to him. He wants us to put him first in our lives, but we can’t do that by running ourselves ragged here there and everywhere trying to keep up with a list of appointments. Our Lord’s first concern is that we come to know him, and that we are filled with his life-giving Spirit. That’s what will make us vessels of his mercy, doing his will and not worrying so much about the seating arrangement in heaven.
So how does true humility begin? Not by asking Our Lord to knock us down to size, but by accepting his love for us. We are all adopted members of his family, and he doesn’t favour one of us over another. We become humble by focusing on his greatness, not on our smallness. The best way to become sensitive to his grace is to spend time with him: to give thanks to him for what he has done for us, and to learn of his ways. The more we sit at his feet, like that little child in the gospel, the more prepared we will be for heaven—because that’s exactly what we’ll be doing for all eternity.