Become Like Little Children
by Fr. Robert D Smith
A lot of people think that mothers and fathers can walk out on their families and
marry someone else and that only children will perceive it as monstrous. One of the
Gospel passages often musunderstood is Matthew 18:3 "...unless you change and
become like little children, you will not enter the kingdom of God." Many un-
fortunately think of this as just a pretty phrase with no particularly profound meaning
behind it. They think of it as requiring some vague kind of simplicity. The Gospels show
that Christ meant much more than that.
Acceptance of God's law, of His ideas of right and wrong as eternal and inflexible
for all men, is required. Little children do this very well. And everyone who hopes for
Heaven must follow their example. Those who do not, to their total astonishment in the
next world, will find themselves fulfilling the negative side of this statement: they will not
enter God's Kingdom.
Christ used what seemed to be an odd phrase in referring to the damned: "...
there will be the weeping, and the gnashing of teeth." (Matt.13:50). Christ repeated
this phrase more often than any other in all four Gospels- five times, on five
separate occasions-six times altogether! Why? Because He knew that His revelations
about Hell would be the hardest to accept. We all like to think of ourselves as mature,
and, from a worldly point of view, Hell does seem childish.
Following all Ten Commandments is childishly easy, childishly understandable.
Eternal torment for violations for such simple things seems childish. It can seem too
simple. Christ countered this response with numerous repetitions. Something can be
simple and still be true. And He warned that simplicity is required in accepting the simple.
There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. The soul in Hell will say to himself: "It was
all so simple. A child, any child, could see it, and I was so stupid that I blotted even
these laws from my mind while I was on Earth and ignored multiple warnings from
St.Paul said:"...be like children as far as evil is concerned, but in mind be
mature." (1 Cor.14:20), Christ is not calling us either to a vague kind of simplicity or to
simple-mindedness; quite the reverse. We are called to maturity, but a maturity that has
not blinded itself to evil....to strict ideas of right and wrong, ideas held so clearly and
easily by children.
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'The Other Side of Christ' copyright © Fr. Robert D Smith. All rights reserved.