“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.” Mt 18:10
Most of us work diligently not to despise anyone or anything, trying always to think of all creation as a gift from God. Nevertheless, we slip, we sin, we fail. In recent days, the actions of our Congress have led many to despise the intransigence of those we have elected to serve, but whose behavior too often seems self protective and rigid. Because we so need our representatives to remember all the people of this nation, especially the poor, we expect them to have the comprehensive and inclusive view of what a stoppage in government service might mean for the neediest of our citizens.
When Jesus wants his disciples and opponents to understand fully his attitude towards them and his expectations of them, he reminds them to look at children as icons of humility. Children, he insists, can teach all what it means to understand greatness. We are not called to dominate or manipulate others, but to serve one another like children and slaves. This is a hard command.
The leaders of the Jews had labored long and hard to know and interpret the law in order to keep their community faithful to the God who had led them out of slavery into the promised land, and they were wary of anyone preaching about the freedom of the sons and daughters of God. If people used freedom, they feared, as a way to ignore or skirt the law, the community would falter and be subject to God's wrath.
Acknowledging their concerns, and letting them know he wanted all to to live the law fully and with joy, Jesus also called for reform and renewal. Concerned that the law was being used as a club to batter the poor, sick and broken, Jesus asked all to be like children: innocent, vulnerable and alert to everything around them, particularly the despised poor.
Today, remember that there are angels around us to protect us.
How do you counter arrogance in yourself and others?