Monday, October 26, 2020




Little – be always little! Be simple, poor, childlike.

In this line of the Little Mandate [1] we encounter the word ‘poor’ for the third time.

We know children are little in stature, until later in life simple in their needs and poor in their utter dependence.

The call to littleness, simplicity, poverty, childlikeness is not a call to change, per se, externals, rather it is a matter of the heart, of such complete imitation of Christ, who first came among us as a little child in Mary’s womb and first visible to us as a little child in a manger; Christ who was little among us because as St. Paul reminds us: Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus, Who, though He was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, He emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, He humbled Himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. [Phil. 2:5-8]

We can ask for the grace to be little, simple, poor, childlike through this simple prayer the nuns taught us as children: Jesus meek and humble of Heart, make my heart like unto Thine own.

Meekness and poverty in spirit are two of the blessings in the Beatitudes: Mt: 5:3-12.

That simple yet powerful pray to the Sacred Heart enables us to enter into St. Paul’s prayer for us that Christ will: grant you in accord with the riches of His glory to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner self…..[Eph. 3:16], for our true selves are interior rooted in heart and soul, for we are essentially little children of our Heavenly Father, sons and daughters through Baptism in Christ, by the Holy Spirit.

Further He chooses to be one with those sometimes referred to as ‘little people’: the poor, outcasts, prisoners, all those, anyone we consider as ‘other, that is, not like us, so much so we will be judged on how we loved Him or not, cared for Him, or not, in ‘other’ thus embracing them as one like us: For I was hungry and you gave Me food, I was thirsty and you gave Me drink, a stranger and you welcomed Me, naked and you clothed Me, ill and you cared for Me, in prison and you visited Me.’  [Mt. 25:35,36].

In his commentary on Mt.25:31-46, Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis [2] teaches how because through the enfleshment of Christ in the Incarnation none can have God as Father who does not have Christ as brother and it is therefore impossible for us to claim Christ as Brother, God as Father who does not see himself and live concretely as brother of every other human being, with everything that implies. Such brotherhood tends toward total identification, so that in my brother I can see only my own flesh……we are children of God, not each by virtue of his own separate existence, but only in the One Child – so that numerically we are many children but in mystical reality only One Child – so, too, Christ’s self-identification with human flesh and the whole human condition makes of all brothers but one single Brother of Christ, the One Child of God.

Pope Francis, using the Parable of the Good Samaritan teaches us: The parable is clear and straightforward, yet it also evokes the interior struggle that each of us experiences as we gradually come to know ourselves through our relationships with our brothers and sisters. Sooner or later, we will all encounter a person who is suffering. Today there are more and more of them. The decision to include or exclude those lying wounded along the roadside can serve as a criterion for judging every economic, political, social and religious project. Each day we have to decide whether to be Good Samaritans or indifferent bystanders. And if we extend our gaze to the history of our own lives and that of the entire world, all of us are, or have been, like each of the characters in the parable. All of us have in ourselves something of the wounded man, something of the robber, something of the passers-by, and something of the Good Samaritan. [3]

The Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Mother, exemplifies living out the call to be little, simple, poor and childlike by her response to the Archangel Gabriel: I am the handmaid of the Lord; in her Magnificat prayer: ….He has looked with favour on His lowly servant. She is silent when the Shepherds, later the Magi, come to see the Child Jesus, follows with simplicity the Lord’s word conveyed through Joseph to flee into Egypt and then to return to Nazareth; when the wine runs out at the Cana wedding she simply points to Jesus and urges the servants to obey Jesus. Indeed, nowhere in the Holy Gospels does she focus attention on herself, she simply is present, lovingly present, including during Christ’s crucifixion, accepting wordlessly to become our Mother and then in silent prayer is with the nascent Church at Pentecost. She lived a mostly hidden life with Joseph and Jesus, the hidden life of a widow and of a mother whose Son left to fulfill His public mission. Had she performed any miracles or lived a life other than that of littleness, simplicity, poverty with her childlike heart surely one of the Evangelists would have recorded the miracles.

She was one with all her brothers and sisters, everyone, in her love and care tending to their needs, actually living out the Gospel with her life, without compromise, the Gospel Jesus had gone to preach but which she knew in her heart.

Jesus teaches us: “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven…..” [Mt. 18:3]

Catherine Doherty taught this prayer: Lord, grant me the heart of a child and the awesome courage to live it out.

Prayed daily, frequently each day, we will have hearts more and more like those of Jesus and Mary and more and more we will live out littleness, simplicity, beatitude poverty and be childlike, authentic brother/sister to everyone, that is to Christ, for like Christ we shall indeed live as children of our Father, and thus as real persons, true members of the one human family wherein we are, in Christ, ONE!

The final word is from St. Paul: I, then, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace: one body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. [Ep.4:1-6]



[2] FIRE OF MERCY HEART OF THE WORLD, Volume III; Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis; p.838; Ignatius Press, 2012 ~ Italics are mine


© 2020 Fr. Arthur Joseph



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