On one particular morning, just two weeks after His resurrection, Jesus stood on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Seeing the Apostles in a boat just off the shore, he said, Little Children, Have you caught anything? (John 21:5)
It is a rather strange way to speak to grown men: “Little Children” (παιδία = paidia = little ones, children, infants, the diminutive of pais (child), hence “little ones”). And yet how deeply affectionate it is.
We often think of ourselves in grander terms, terms that bespeak power, wisdom, age, and strength. But I suspect that, to God, we must always seem like little children.
When I do infant Baptisms I normally use a passage from the Gospel of Mark in which the Lord says (among other things), Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a little child (παιδίον) shall not enter it (Mark 10:15). And thus we must finally come to realize that however rich, powerful, capable, or mature we my think ourselves to be, we depend radically on Abba for everything—even the next beat of our heart. The infants I baptize are already preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom simply by their littleness. They summon us who think we are strong and independent to know who and what we really are: little children, so needful of Abba for everything.
I am often moved as I walk the halls of nursing homes and see many once powerful “adults” now reflecting their truest state. Like little children, they have become dependent. Some can no longer talk. Others just sing and hold dolls. Still others wear diapers, need to be fed, and cry out for help and comfort. It has always been so for them (and for us); it is just now more evident.
This Sunday’s gospel begins with the Lord calling us his “little flock.” And so we are—little and yet loved.
And somewhere, standing on the seashore of your life, the Lord is calling out, “Little One … have you anything to eat?”
I though of all this when I saw the video below. I wondered as I viewed it if it doesn’t depict all of us as God really sees us. The folks in this video think they are “big and bad.” But for a moment we them as God does. Enjoy this.