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Christ had just assigned Peter to pay the taxes and the other apostles -- well, still low in spirituality -- were filled with envy. Envy Peter for paying the taxes... what is there to envy about? But that is how vices work; because they have envy in their hearts, they will envy anything. The same goes with us; the other does not have to have or do anything. The envious man envies him even if he has nothing. 

So Christ gives the solution for envy . . . for all vices, for that matter. Asked by the envious apostles, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" Christ took a child, placed him in front of the apostles and said: "He who is like this child will be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."

What is it in a child that we must imitate? Surely, not everything. A child, because of his innocence, is humble; this is an ingredient of holiness in every child. A child is born a holy person but, because of original sin, he is childish, i.e. he tends to insist on what he likes.

Christ asks us to imitate the child's humility but not his childishness. And so the Christian training of children consists in maintaining his humility and removing his childishness. It is the humility of the child that makes him a bundle of joy . . . to the point that his childishness seems cute . . . because of his humility. Remove the humility and his childishness is not cute.

A badly brought up child usually loses his humility and keeps his childishness;, so he grows up insisting on his own will. His humility is changed into pride. Now, a combination of pride and childishness is not exactly cute . . . it is, in fact, disgusting.

Because a child is humble, even if he insists on his way, he does not insist so much or too long because he is humble. And if we talk to him well enough, he easily gives up his own way . . . because of humility. Grown ups, because they have lost their humility and substituted it with pride, when they insist on their own way, they do it persistently and even with violence.

So Christ admonishes us to return and become children again. Yes, because of original sin we will still tend to insist on our way, no matter how stupid it is; but, like children, let is be humble. Because, if we are humble, it will be easier for God to convince us to abandon our ways and do His instead. In this childlike state, we can regain our spiritual innocence and slowly, completely eradicate the effects of original sin in us -- that tendency on insisting on our way -- and become perfect. . .perfect children of God. 

Then Christ continues to show how the humble is dear to Him by saying: "Whoever honors one such child as this honors Me." Whatever we do to a humble child, we do it to Christ. But Christ implied this also for all who are humble, i.e. whatever we do to anyone who is humble we do to Christ. For whoever is humble is like Christ, who said, "Learn from Me for I am meek and humble of heart."

Then Christ continues: "Whoever insults any of these . . . " insults Christ. It is difficult to insult the proud because they hit back; it is inviting to insult the humble because they do not react. So, man tends to harm or insult the humble. Well, Christ said, we better think twice before we do that. To have a huge stone tied around our necks and thrown into a lake is not really a pleasant experience.

Take heed, Christ continues, despise not one of these little ones; in heaven their angels always behold the face of My Father who is in heaven. Strange comment. Does it mean the proud do not have Guardian Angels? No. Everyone has a guardian angel. The guardian angels of the humble children are so happy with their wards that they are emboldened to go to God and, face to face, pray for their wards. While the guardian angels of the proud are so ashamed of their wards they are, sort of, embarrassed to report to God. 

Children will always be born because they are our last instructors in the virtue of humility. To welcome their birth is to welcome Christ; to stop or plan their birth is not to welcome them, thus, rejecting Christ. When we are with children, think not that we are superior to them because what we can teach them and what we can do for them is superficial. What they can teach us and do for us is of the greatest importance . . . because they teach us humility, the only key that can open the gates of heaven for us. 






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