22As they were gathering in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into human hands, 23and they will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised.” And they were greatly distressed. 24When they reached Capernaum, the collectors of the temple tax came to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the temple tax?” 25He said, “Yes, he does.” And when he came home, Jesus spoke of it first, asking, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tribute? From their children or from others?” 26When Peter said, “From others,” Jesus said to him, “Then the children are free. 27However, so that we do not give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook; take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a coin; take that and give it to them for you and me.” 18 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2He called a child, whom he put among them, 3and said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. 6″If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea. 7″Woe to the world because of stumbling blocks! Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to the one by whom the stumbling block comes! 8If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life maimed or lame than to have two hands or two feet and to be thrown into the eternal fire. 9And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into the hell of fire. 10Take care that you do not despise one of these little ones; for, I tell you, in heaven their angels continually see the face of my Father in heaven. 12What do you think? If a shepherd has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? 13And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. 14So it is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost.”
Jesus tells us that we need to become like children. Some years ago, when our youngest daughter was three or four years old, I was getting ready to take her to preschool. It was a moderately clear day, not particularly overcast. The weather report forecast thunderstorms and rain. When I asked our daughter to put on her raincoat, she suggested that she wear something else because it wasn’t raining. I said it was going to rain later in the day. She asked me how I knew that, and I explained to her how I had watched Al Roker on the weather report, and he said it was going to rain. I tried to explain it to her, but somehow she had it in her head that it wasn’t going to rain because it wasn’t raining at that moment. Eventually I just made her wear her raincoat. Later I had to laugh because on some level I suspect that’s how we must look to God when we want to live life our way instead of God’s way. Acknowledging this is not a matter of childish immaturity, but mature and healthy self-awareness. Acknowledging this and then being open to learn from the God who created us is indeed the beginning of wisdom, and where wisdom is, the kingdom of God is just off that horizon.
The Rt. Rev. Michael Curry Bishop of the Diocese of North Carolina Charlotte, North Carolina
What is one thing you can do today to open yourself to God’s guidance and direction?
Almighty God, help us to see beyond our childish ways so that we may seek and serve you with gladness of heart. Amen.
Rev. Mary’s Response
I started my day today praying, “Dear God, Today, I give my will over to you. Show me the way to sobriety, calm, patience, and a loving way,. Help me give up my high horse and step to level ground. Help me pave the way with branches and coats for Jesus to come t us all.”
I think this is a rather weird prayer to come to me in the fourth week of Easter, but maybe not. The phrase “high horse” really struck me. It made me think of my imaginary view of Palm Sunday – Pilate coming into the city on his “high horse” and Jesus coming in through the opposite gate on a lowly donkey (or two). Notice, I am at least self-aware to know that I don’t even deserve a donkey, I need to be on level ground.
But this phrase (credited to the 1700’s) “Get off your high horse” is really helpful to me today and that is why I share it with you. For I struggle constantly with my own will and when it is not satisfied, I struggle with not being angry, indignant, and self-pitying. You see, when things don’t go my way–I want to be as big as I can, gather all my power–to show others how right I am. And what better way but to sit upon a huge horse, looking even bigger than I ever could on the ground. But that is my will. God’s will, as Jesus taught us is to love one another. One gives up all advantage to love because love is among equals – I think. There are other actions, feelings, etc. that are worthy of praise: Duty, magnanimous. but some of these don’t hold up within the kingdom. Judges are worn “down” by persistent widows, small mustard seeds thrive and grow into bushes that become as big as trees. The stooped, bleeding widow is healed-because Jesus is on the ground where she can touch him for healing.
So if I am on my high horse, I may win the fight, the argument, the point in discussion, but I will lose the kingdom. What this tells me is stop fighting and start loving.
Crafton, Barbara Cawthorne. A Journey With Matthew: The 50 Day Bible Challenge . Forward Movement. Kindle Edition. ey With Matthew: The 50 Day Bible Challenge . Forward Movement. Kindle Edition.