A mother took her three children to a fine restaurant for a dinner.
>> It was a crowded Sunday and they could only get separate seats.
As food was served, the youngest daughter – 6 year old Mary – who was seated at the far corner of the restaurant…
… loudly enquired from her mother: “Mother, don’t people say grace before meals in this place?”
A wave of silence wrapped the entire restaurant!
The mother did not know how to react.
But soon enough, the manager of the hotel, who was at the counter, said in an assuring voice to the child: “Yes we do. You may start…”
All the people bowed their head in silence
Little Mary closed her eyes, joined her hands and bowing her head…
… in a loud and crystal voice prayed: “Bless us O Lord, and these your gifts, which we are going to receive from your goodness, through Christ our Lord… Amen!”
The child found it strange to observe that none of the elders were praying…
… So she went “out of the way”
>> And did something that was very beautiful
>> And taught others an action to be imitated
The Gospel of the Day is an invitation by the Lord to re-discover this “forgotten” dimension of our lives: Having child-like qualities in our life of faith…
… especially to “go out of the way”!
The Gospel passage begins with disciples asking their Master: “Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?” (Mt 18: 1)
Taking a child, Jesus exclaims: “Truly I say to you, unless you turn and become like little children, you will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven” (Mt 18: 3)
One notable characteristic of a child is to do things “out of the way.”
A child “goes out of the way”…
… in expressing love and affection by trying to imitate the kind acts of the elders
… in trying to help others – giving a hand at the household chores, or doing little works
Jesus, speaking of this worthwhile quality of a child…
… presents to us the image of a Shepherd who goes “out of the way”, in search of the lost sheep.
Jesus says: ” 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?” (Mt 18: 12)
The shepherd loves all his hundred sheep…
… yet, when one gets strayed, he makes “an out-of-the-way effort” to get the lost one back.
He does not give up on the strayed.
>> He doesn’t desert the lost.
>> He doesn’t abandon the one, gone from his circle.
This attitude of going “out of the way”….
>> “taking an extra pain”
>> “dripping an extra sweat”
… would seem weird and strange to the calculative, pragmatic and business-minded head of ours, in this modern period!
We might question:
>> Is it not a waste of time to go after the “lost sheep”…
… of an obsessed drug-addict or a habitual drunkard or a consistent smoker?
>> Is it just too futile to awaken a “lost sheep”…
… of a soul in slumber, where there is no focus on spiritual life, where there is slackness of prayer and sacraments and where worldliness and materialism have crept and conquered?
>> Is it of any use to go after the “lost sheep”…
… of a couple who are constantly bickering and a family which is broken up with regular fights and misunderstandings?
>> Is there any sense in trying to restore the “lost sheep”…
… of a community whose members seem disinterested, who are lethargic, who have their own personal and hidden agenda and who always back-talk and back-bite?
>> Is it just not meaningless to revive the “lost sheep”…
… of a society or a nation where corruption has taken deep-roots in hearts of people and all sincere efforts of transformation often gets dumped into the bin?
The True Shepherd however, in all such situations, of the “lost sheep” …
… “goes out of the way”
>> The Good Shepherd makes an extra effort in getting them back!
This Good Shepherd today invites us to be partakers in restoring the lost ones…
… by having a child-like attitude.
A critical danger in the process of “growing- up” is the tendency to lose our “natural child-like” qualities.
>> As a child, we were free to express our emotions…
… but when we “grow up”, we tend to hold them up all within (only to burst out one day!)
>> As a child, we were easily dependant on those who cared for us…
… but when we “grow up”, we become arrogant towards them and seek ‘independence’
>> As a child, we were able to enjoy and relax in the present moment…
… but when we “grow up”, we get caught up in the snare of the past and shrink with fear of the future.
The Lord invites us to get back the ‘lost’ child-like faith and trust.
>> We need to realise that we are always little children to our Heavenly Father!
>> He loves to care for us… He longs that we depend on Him entirely!
Yes, children sometimes teach elders great lessons, isn’t it?
Many times we forget the basics of life, which the children remind us…
>> Sharing… Being fair… Enjoying the present moment
>> Curiosity to learn… Willingness to let go hurts… Having a sense of wonder
Let us be willing to “go out of the way”…
>> And do things that are very beautiful
>> And teach others actions, that can be imitated!
Let us seek the intercession of St Edith Stein, whose feast we celebrate today.
>> Known as St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, she was a German Jewish philosopher, who became a Catholic and died as a martyr in the Auschwitz concentration camp in 1942.
Let us give heed to her words:
“The deeper one is drawn into God, the more one must “go out of oneself”…
… i.e. one must go to the world in order to carry the divine life into it.”
God Bless! Live Jesus!