Friends, in today’s Gospel, Jesus presents a child as an archetype to his disciples who were arguing about who was the greatest.
How so? Children don’t know how to hide the truth of their reactions. They haven’t learned yet how to impress others. In this, they are like stars or flowers or animals, things that are what they are, unambiguously. They are in accord with God’s deepest intentions for them.
Children haven’t yet learned how to look at themselves. Why can a child immerse himself so eagerly and thoroughly in what he is doing? Because he can lose himself; because he is not looking at himself, conscious of the reactions, expectations, and approval of those around him.
The problem is that, from a very early age, we learn not to be ourselves, and this is a function of the sinful human construct of the ego. We convince ourselves that joy will come only when we become like someone else, only when we receive the applause of the crowd, only when we live up to the expectations of our group, family, or society.
This causes that terrible cramping of the soul which is pride, the deadliest of the deadly sins.