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October 1979

Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it. (Mk 10:15)

Perhaps this phrase of the Gospel never has been clear to you. Perhaps you would like to understand the meaning of this word "child" which is so important, because it decides whether or not each person is to enter the kingdom of God, the place where Christ's law is lived.

Pay attention and I'll try and explain the Phrase.

Don't think Jesus wanted this to be the highest praise for the virtues of children. He had other things in mind. Using the model of the child, Jesus meant to show the child's natural attitude towards grown ups, towards parents for instance. It is an attitude of absolute trust, of complete abandonment. The child knows that its life is in the hands of one who is more mature, stronger, and more expert than himself. He has no doubts about love.

Whoever you may be, if you are an important person in the world and consider yourself to be a teacher, a ruler, or somebody with responsibility over others, even if you speak many languages and have travelled the world, or if you are a scientist, a philosopher, an economist or an author, you cannot enter the kingdom of Heaven unless, in front of God, you become like a child.

Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.

Jesus says, 'Whoever does not receive’. The kingdom of God is to be received, so it is a gift that God gives you. No amount of human effort, ascetical exercise, intellectual study or research can make you enter the kingdom of God. It is God himself who comes and meets you, who reveals himself with his light or touches you with his grace. There isn’t any merit that you could boast about or rely on that would give you the right to expect such a gift of God. The kingdom comes to you as a free offering.

Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.

Knowing how to receive a gift is a normal thing for a child who needs all sorts of things, and who receives everything from others in order to survive and grow. Just watch a child who is small and behaves like this. The same applies to you. Don't be like "adults" who, seeing themselves as grand and important, end up thinking of themselves in that way not just in front of other people, but before God as well. The child knows that he does not know, that he has many things to learn. For you it is the same. Don't be like "adults" who are rich with their own culture or their own experience.

For the child it is easy to believe. It is the same for you: step out of the armour of diffidence that many people build up over a period of time.

The child is at the start of life and open to every adventure. So are you; don't invent obstacles that prevent you from starting to live the life of the Gospel and from continuing to live it during your life with the same sense of freshness.

Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.

Jesus spoke these words just when the disciples were trying to stop children from coming to him. Their attitude was the common view: children are immature beings of little value, and they did not want them to disturb the Master. However Jesus calls them, draws them to himself, extends his arms over them, blesses them and puts them before his disciples as a model, saying: "For to such as these belongs the kingdom of Heaven."

The kingdom of God belongs to children, just as it belongs to the poor, the persecuted, and those who hunger and thirst for justice.

Children, therefore, have a privileged position in the community of Christians, also because Jesus teaches us to love in a special way those who are left aside, those who despair, the needy or the least. Not only that, but simply by their presence, children remind you that unless you are "like them" you cannot enter or remain in the kingdom of God.

Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.

Chiara Lubich


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