OCTOBER 27, 2020

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ He called a child, whom he put among them, and said, ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. — Matthew 18: 1-5

Dear Church Family,

G.K. Chesterton once said, “Angels can fly because they take themselves so lightly.” A child who innocently squeals a cry of delight or joy can fly. In these present days of pandemic, social distancing, social discord — life feels thick and heavy. It’s hard to get out of bed and face another day of all this. How can we be engaged, and not give up such hope that “grounds” and keeps us from “taking off,” lifted by God’s goodness and joy?

Years ago, in seminary I used the resources of the Roncalli Center – a media library, in Louisville in church youth ministry I was leading. I was unfamiliar with the name until I asked, and learned the center was named for Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli. He was a northern Italian farmer’s son, who learned to plant and sow wherever he went – a mission of the center named for him.

You may know him better as Pope John XXIII. He was nearly 78 years old when elected pope. He brought a lightness, joy, gentleness and hope to the papacy. He convened the first ecumenical Council in nearly 100 years. Remembered for many things – depending on how you assess his ministry as Pope — John XXIII is remembered for poking fun at himself and at over formality. He reminds us that taking faith seriously is crucial to growing in Christ. To do that we come to the Father as a child, with hands, hearts and souls open, beaming with innocent anticipation to receive God’s gifts of love and grace. As a child thrives when planted in a garden tended by love and grace, so do we. We never outgrow it. We grow up into it. We get over ourselves and on with God.

Maybe that’s what we need to remember right now. We lose ourselves in all the noise and distractions that take us from the source of love, joy, hope, and laughter. Can you laugh at one of your shortcomings this day, and ask God to help you learn, so you won’t punish yourself for being “not enough?” You are enough. That’s how God sees and knows your deepest pain and wants you to laugh, because you are loved, just as you are. Just hold onto that through your day. Someone just may notice you’ve sprouted wings — at least a smile. Remember Jesus’ words — not the over-serious adults, but a child who does nothing but sit in Jesus’ lap — leads us into God’s kingdom. I could use some time there about now – how about you?

Blessings, and treat yourself to a laugh today — Fr. Steve
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