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Little, Least, and Blessed
Tuesday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time
They left from there and began a journey through Galilee, but he did not wish anyone to know about it. He was teaching his disciples and telling them, “The Son of Man is to be handed over to men and they will kill him, and three days after his death he will rise.” But they did not understand the saying, and they were afraid to question him. They came to Capernaum and, once inside the house, he began to ask them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” But they remained silent. They had been discussing among themselves on the way who was the greatest. Then he sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.” Taking a child he placed it in their midst, and putting his arms around it he said to them, “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.”
Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, renew my mind that I may see as you see and embrace the path of being the least.
- Transformation of Mind and Heart: Saint Paul reminds us in Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” This is the path of a Christian, a constant renewal of our minds. God invites us to see beyond our scope of imagination and expectations to embrace his eternal Wisdom–a plan that goes beyond our human understanding and against the grain of our natural human desires. The disciples struggled with Jesus’s revelation, not accepting the path of redemption that he presented. When I fail to see a purpose to my suffering (or another’s suffering), Our Lord invites me to struggle with his revelation–that suffering, united to Christ, has eternal significance–and say, “Jesus I trust in you.”
- The Path of Our Triumphant King and Suffering Servant: The disciples could not fathom their Lord failing in human terms. They awaited a triumphant victory. How pleased they were when Jesus entered Jerusalem adorned and treated as a King! That fit their expectations. They accepted the prophetic messages from Isaiah that fit their preconceived notion of a victorious Messiah, but their hearts were closed to a redemptive path that involves degradation, despite these clues from Isaiah: “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed…and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:5-6). I am blessed beyond measure because I am able to unite my suffering to the Messiah’s. This “eternal perspective,” which gives meaning to life’s every ache and pain, evokes in me a resounding, “Thank you.”
- Remember Who You Are: When Jesus placed a child before the disciples, he reminded them of their own identity. His closest followers were part of the Anawim, the poor of Yahweh. They are descendants of those seemingly forgotten Jews left behind in the exile, but chosen to faithfully preserve the Covenant and maintain hope in the restoration of Israel with the coming of the Messiah. The Anawim are the simple and the poor, like children. But they are nonetheless beloved in the eyes of God, chosen by him. Jesus reminded them of who they were or what they needed to be if they had forgotten–a trusting child, the least, a servant among all. Despite being called to be “little” and “least” they were also blessed to walk the same path as their Lord–one of total self-giving as a suffering servant. I, too, am a child of God, called to be “least,” “servant of all.”
Conversing with Christ: Jesus, I thank you for the way you challenge me to think not as the world thinks but as God thinks. Help me to remain always childlike.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will reject whatever decreases my spirit of faith and engage in whatever brings me closer to God.
For Further Reflection: Catechism of the Catholic Church on the Formation of Conscience, nn. 1783-1785 and http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/how-we-teach/catechesis/catechetical-sunday/enlisting-witnesses/confronting-secularism-today.cfm.
Jennifer Ristine is a consecrated woman of Regnum Christi who is dedicated to spiritual and faith formation through teaching, conferences, writing, and spiritual direction. While serving in Ancient Magdala she wrote Mary Magdalene: Insights from Ancient Magdala