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Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Ez. 18:1-10, 13, 30-32 & Mt. 19:13-15

God's love is unconditional. He loves us without any strings attached. But God's promises are another matter. He promises us that we will live, but only if we repent and try to avoid all sin. God cannot give us the blessings He wants for us if we do not keep our side of the bargain.

Ezekiel certainly drove this message home in a memorable way. Living a blessed life was conditional upon living a virtuous life - doing what is just, avoiding idolatry, living chastely, oppressing no one, repaying debts, stealing nothing, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, dealing honestly, judging fairly, obeying the laws, attending worship. These are the conditions that have to be met before we can enjoy the life that God intends for us.

We need to be reminded from time to time of God's conditional promises. It is so easy to stress the gracious side of God's nature and the free offer of His love that we forget that God makes demands on us. We are privileged to be a part of His family, but family membership has its responsibilities as well as its privileges. Let us look at the list again.

Are we living just and chaste lives? Are we repaying our debts and stealing from no one? Are we feeding the hungry and clothing the naked? Are we dealing honestly and judging fairly? Are we good citizens? Do we practice our faith? This is a pretty formidable list of requirements. So, it is true we need to do more than eat properly, exercise regularly, and take our vitamin tablets in order to live a good life!

How do you relate to children? Some are loving and affectionate and it is a pleasure to be with them. Some are noisy, disruptive, rude, selfish and you don't want to know them. The latter we prefer to be seen and not heard!

Some parents brought their children to Jesus in today's Gospel so that He could lay His hands on them and bless them. It seems the disciples thought that He had more important things to do with His time and wanted to shoo them away. But He said, "Let the children come to Me, and do not prevent them, for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these." In saying that He was explaining how, in Jesus' eyes, children are just as important as adults. Those parents must have been very pleased that He made time for them!

How should we define the Kingdom of Heaven? It is that society on Earth where God's will is done as perfectly as it is in Heaven. If those children were to have died at that moment they would have gone straight to Heaven for they had done nothing wrong to incur the anger of God and the pains of Hell.

Children have very wonderful qualities like complete trust and utter dependence on their parents, a sense of wonder and speaking openly of what is in their hearts, sometimes to the embarrassment of their parents. These are the childlike traits that we adults seem to have lost although they were the ones which endeared those children to Jesus.

Holy Spirit, inspire us as adults to lead lives that are pleasing to God, so that we can hear from Jesus the words, "the Kingdom of God belongs to such as you” when we meet Him at our Judgement.

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