What does it mean to “receive” Jesus Christ?
As Catholics we receive him in the Eucharist.
We receive his body and blood.
The Eucharist for us is the manifestation of the New Covenant,
a sign of God’s alliance with his people; a commitment that we accept his Lordship over our lives….
with the accompanying moral and religious requirements.
The Eucharist is celebration of the new Passover.
Jesus is the Lamb of God.
Just as by eating the lamb and sprinkling its blood on the doorpost of their homes
the Israelites were saved from the angel of death,
we too are saved from eternal death by eating the lamb.
These are rather simplistic explanations, but they make the point.
Today’s gospel reveals to us another way to “receive” Jesus Christ.
“Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me.”
This statement is part of a scene where Jesus is correcting a misunderstanding about discipleship.
For a second time Jesus mentions the manner of his death
and for second time the disciples are unable to comprehend,
unable to make sense out of what Jesus is saying about following him.
They are preoccupied with other things…their own interests. They have their own agenda.
And their interest is greatness and success; having the greatest rank; being the most important;
having the most power; being the most popular; being second in line after Jesus himself.
We have to remember that in Jesus’ day, a child was insignificant.
A child had no social status…was totally dependent upon others for survival.
A child was innocent and helpless.
Whoever accepts a child, show hospitality to a child, gives friendly reception to a child;
whoever values a child, pays heed to a child, takes responsibility for a child…
shares in the work of Christ, builds up fellowship in Christ.
Whoever accepts a child in Jesus’ name
will enhance, improve and sustain his/her life in Jesus Christ.
Social attachment to a child is attachment to Jesus and therefore attachment to the Father.
Look at it this way…
through a child Jesus knocks on the door of the disciple’s heart.
And even to this day, associating with a child in the name of Jesus,
instead of associating with someone who is popular and influential,
demonstrates the renunciation of power and greatness.
Your mission as a disciple of Jesus Christ: value a child, embrace a child, protect a child.
Today’s prayer: “O Lord, You come to us in many ways. You come to us through Your son Jesus Christ. Help us to understand what it means to receive a child in his name. Through Your Spirit inspire us to pursue not greatness and power but humility. Even though you were innocent, you accepted the cross. Teach us, as your disciples, to do the same. Amen!”