Tuesday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time
With aging parents and the second of our three no-longer-little-ones about to head off to college, I am currently very aware of the passing of time. Not only the aging of our “kids” and parents, but that of me and my husband as well, as we recently celebrated 30 years of marriage and are just a few years away from being empty-nesters. Perhaps that’s why I was particularly attuned to how today’s readings take us from old age to “little ones.” From 120-year-old Moses in the first reading to the children Jesus calls us to become like in the gospel passage.
In the reading from Deuteronomy, we learn that Moses is “no longer able to move about freely” and will not be crossing the Jordan into the promised land to which he had been leading the Israelites for 40 years. But this does not come as a surprise to Moses whom, we read, the Lord had already told and prepared for this reality. It doesn’t seem to disappoint him. Perhaps at age 120 it comes as somewhat of a relief that he will not have to cross the Jordan but can finally rest at the end of his life, knowing that the Lord has gotten them this far and Joshua will now see them across.
In fact, Moses summons Joshua and emboldens him for the task, saying “Be brave and steadfast...It is the Lord who marches before you; he will be with you and will never fail you or forsake you. So do not fear or be dismayed.” And I wonder if Moses held onto some of those words of courage for himself, as well, as he would soon die on Mount Nebo. But only after being able to look out from the mountain top over the land that the Lord had promised to the people that he had led out of slavery 40 years before.
In today’s gospel reading from Matthew, Jesus places a child in their midst to answer the disciples’ question of “Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?”. Jesus clearly states that we are to become humble like a child in order to enter the Kingdom. I’m guessing that was not the answer the disciples were expecting.
Although well before Jesus’ time, Moses demonstrated that sort of humility at the end of his life. Knowing that his part was finished, without bitterness he humbly yet boldly blesses Joshua to carry on where he left off. Listening to God, trusting, and believing, it seems that he was able to die in peace.
Whether we are near the end of our life, still young, or somewhere in the middle ground, how is Jesus calling us to “turn and become like children”? In what particular areas of our life might we need to put on the humility and faith of “one of these little ones”? Though a part of us may resist, Moses reminds us that the Lord will be with us and never fail or forsake us. Perhaps there we will even find greater peace.