You get it.
“Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me.”
Why did Jesus compare receiving a child to receiving Him?
The key in this verse is the word “receive.” It actually means to take by the hand. It means to take up. It means to befriend. It means to receive in hospitality. It means to accept into one’s life.
Whoever does these things isn’t just receiving a child, but they are also receiving Jesus because they no longer care about being pretentious, pompous, high-and-mighty, or arrogant. They are open, not just the innocence or a child, but to becoming small themselves.
We all know that we can’t act like big shots around children. They see right through it and will call us on it. In relating to a child we have to let down our guards, open up, and soften ourselves.
We have to do the same to accept Jesus, and to accept and welcome His Father as our Father.
Jesus was showing the disciples, who were arguing about who’s first that they had to let go of that attitude. They had to stop pretending after greatness because the only place they could find greatness, find heaven, was in being the servant to each other.
Jesus loved children because they weren’t competing. They were open to love and plain teaching. They recognized Jesus’ love – they got Him. While the men and women around Him, even His disciples were blinded by their own goals, children clearly saw God’s goals for their lives – and they accepted God’s goals as their goals.
We will all be called to account for our approach to life – how closely our lives follow Jesus’ way.
Did we treat our faith as something complex and hierarchical? Did we treat our faith as based on community and service to each other and the wider world?
Do we dwell on disputes and the competition to be greater than others? Do we focus on humility and self-denial so as to be most like Jesus?
St. James, having learned from Jesus during these days, points out that we tend to seek for ourselves, we focus only on our passions, we ask wrongly. We need to listen to the child’s voice. When we hear, “May I please have a glass of water?” our hearts should melt to become the servant who fulfills that child’s need – for the water that brings both physical and spiritual life. Be a humble believer, accept that child, and receive Jesus.