Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Met Ephrem (Kyriakos): Children

Arabic original here.


"Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God" (Mark 10:14).

Don't prevent children from drawing near to the Lord Jesus, from coming to church. Some interpreters have seen in these words an echo of the practice of baptizing children in the early Church. Jesus' attitude toward children is not limited to a sentimental concern for children and the family.

Children's rights were trampled on in that era. A child, because he is weak, does not rely on his own capabilities, but trusts completely in those bigger than him. For this reason, he is more able than others to surrender to God's will. Thus the Lord Jesus says, "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 18:3).

Here too the Lord is not content with just a sentimental glance, but rather it is next to the innocence of children that His attitude can be seen, starting off from the fact that each one of us, no matter what his age, must surrender to God's will as an expression of trust and security in his connection to others, with his parents and especially with God. The child and the spirit of childhood accompany the life of a person who seeks the kingdom of God, not only with his own ability or with his own righteousness, as the Apostle Paul says, but also and especially by way of God's grace, which grants us trust, security, innocence, humility. All these things children have naturally in abundance.

In Matthew, the disciples pose the question to Jesus, saying, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" (Matthew 18:1)

That is, who is closest to God. Do you think it is those who are knowledgeable of scripture and the Law? Or is it the great people in this world?

The Lord replies: no! Rather, it is the little ones "like this child" like this simple person who is humble, poor, relying on God alone. When He tells them, "unless you are converted and become as little children..." (Matthew 18:3), he means a process of constant transformation, a process of repentance, a constant return to God and submission to His will. Jesus once told Nicodemus:

"Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3). Here too there is a reference to the mystery of baptism, to constant repentance.

He also points to humility when He says, "whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 18:4). That is, one who feels himself to be small like this child, small before God and before others. Small and humble.

Simple, poor. "Blessed are the poor, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." This is the way of childhood that one acquires through divine grace, the way of new birth in the Spirit, the way of salvation with the Lord.

Metropolitan of Tripoli, al-Koura and their Dependencies

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