30 September, 2013. Monday of the Twenty Sixth Week
Zech 8:1ff. Jerusalem shall again be filled with Israelites who have been scattered across the earth.
Lk 9:46ff. With the example of a little child Jesus declares the least to be the greatest.
First Reading: Zechariah 8:1-8
The word of the Lord of hosts came to me, saying: Thus says the Lord of hosts: I am jealous for Zion with great jealousy, and I am jealous for her with great wrath. Thus says the Lord: I will return to Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem; Jerusalem shall be called the faithful city, and the mountain of the Lord of hosts shall be called the holy mountain.
Thus says the Lord of hosts: Old men and old women shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each with staff in hand because of their great age. And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in its streets.
Thus says the Lord of hosts: Even though it seems impossible to the remnant of this people in these days, should it also seem impossible to me, says the Lord of hosts?
Thus says the Lord of hosts: I will save my people from the east country and from the west country; and I will bring them to live in Jerusalem. They shall be my people and I will be their God, in faithfulness and in righteousness.
Gospel: Luke 9:46-50
An argument arose among them as to which one of them was the greatest. But Jesus, aware of their inner thoughts, took a little child and put it by his side, and said to them, “Whoever welcomes this child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me; for the least among all of you is the greatest.”
Jn answered, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us.” But Jesus said to him, “Do not stop him; for whoever is not against you is for you.”
Children remain the key to reflection through today’s readings and give a glimpse of the new Jerusalem, Zechariah pictures the city with “boys and girls playing in the streets” and in the gospel Jesus turns to children to teach about the “greatest in the Kingdom of God.”
So often they demonstrate where adults fail. Children manifest life and enthusiasm where many people in Zechariah’s day were simply dragging themselves through life to the grave. The prophet’s preaching about new life and bright future was received with a yawn. On his advice and that of Haggai the people had rebuilt the temple. . The splendid vision of a new Jerusalem seemed impossible in the people’s eyes. Zechariah, however, quickly asks the question on the part of God, “Shall it… be impossible in my eyes also?”
If we are to believe in the hereafter, we must think of children. Children force us to think also in terms of family and that means the sharing of possessions with the wider family. They make us ponder the mysterious source of life. As adults, we cannot control life as though we were God. At the same time we do not act solely on instinct, like animals. We must think and consider all of the responsibilities of life. Yet, there must also remain a secret part of life which belongs solely to God. Not only in the process of conception, pregnancy and birth, but also in many other important moments of our existence, we do our best when we follow intuitions or inspirations which take even ourselves by surprise.
Children quarrel, yes, but they quickly make up again. The gospel presents us with two scenes of envy and pettiness. The disciples were arguing, “which of them was the greatest.” Jesus turns to children and says to welcome a child is to welcome him, and “The least one among you is the greatest.” This statement is all the more puzzling if it includes Jesus. Is he the least? He is, supremely, the child of his Father, always in the attitude of receiving the Father’s life and as a child he is receiving it totally.