St. Michael & All Angels (observed), 2014
Delivered By
Pr. Mark D. Lovett
Delivered On
September 28, 2014
Central Passage
Matthew 18:1-10

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.

A child is not humble because a child is innocent. I know we like to think of children as innocent, but what we really mean is that a child is defenseless. Our heart goes out to children who suffer not because they are truly innocent but because they cannot defend themselves against this wicked world. A child is rather helpless when facing the world. So the faces of children cover the magazines and news stories of starvation and slaughter, of war and pestilence. Suffering children should pull at our heart strings and move us in pity to ease their suffering and help the helpless.

That is, in essence, the way it is with our heavenly Father. He looked down on the children of men and saw how helpless we are. Not innocent. Far from innocent. But helpless. And He had pity and mercy for He is merciful. He bid His only-begotten Son, who is God of God and very God of very God, to go and help the helpless. So the Son of God became the Son of Man to seek and save the lost, which is all of us.

To receive the kingdom of heaven like a little child is to receive it from your heavenly Father. The humility of a child is not in what they think of themselves, for I’m not so sure but that self-acknowledgment and self-awareness don’t come until a child begins to stop receiving things from his father. It is only when the child can provide for him or herself – in whatever way – that he or she begins to lose the humility of a child and begins to gain the ego of a man. It is when little Jonny can get his own cookie and his own glass of milk that he begins to think that he can do other things by himself. So the humility is replaced by self-awareness and self-reliance. While he must rely on mom and dad, little Jonny remains humble.

Humility is more of a condition than an attitude. The attitude we call humility is really masked egotism. And it’s not masked very well. If you do things to look humble or to make yourself appear humble, even good things, then you are not humble. For true humility is really the inability to do anything for yourself, especially to make yourself appear humble.

Little Jonny’s attitude is hard to ascertain. He might be angry, happy, afraid, forceful, or any other thing. But none of these attitudes can in itself help him to get a cookie or drive himself to the doctor or even open doors. He must wait for another to come along and do these things for him. That’s humility. If you want to know humility – forced humility, even – talk to someone who is bound to a wheelchair or one of our shut-ins. They are humble. Not because their attitude is a certain way but because they are dependent upon others.

So the world says to become self-reliant and gain your independence. Woe to the one through whom temptation comes. Temptation must come, but woe to the one through whom it comes.

We are tempted at every turn to stop relying on our heavenly Father and start doing things for ourselves. Not just in matters of salvation but in matters of all things. We so often think that temptations are big and involve big sins. But in truth we only think that because we have fooled ourselves into thinking that we have the little sins under control. But Jesus was tempted to make bread for Himself. Seems a small temptation. We know it was big because it’s in the Bible and we can see that it was Satan that was doing the tempting. But imagine that when you go home the meal you prepare for yourself is a temptation from the devil to stop trusting in your heavenly Father and to start doing things for yourself.

Before you know it you will abandon, too, the promise of the inheritance and think that if you’re going to get to heaven or have a good life then you’re going to have to do it your way. Such was the temptation that followed the bread when our Lord was tempted to simply bow the knee to Satan to gain the whole world. His Father had already promised Him the whole world, just as He has promised it to you and more. For the meek shall inherit the earth and we are coheirs with Christ of an eternal kingdom.

We receive everything from our heavenly Father just as Jesus did.

And that’s the faith of a little child, the faith of Jesus. To receive all things from your heavenly Father and therefore to give thanks to Him for all things. Even those things we find it difficult to give thanks for, like crosses and crucifixion. The Lord Jesus prayed that if possible, He would rather that cup be taken from Him, yet He received even the cross from His heavenly Father. And to what end? For the salvation of all men.

And this salvation we receive from our heavenly Father through Jesus Christ our Lord by the power of the Holy Spirit.

+ In Nomine Iesu +