Mark 9: 30-37
[From The Gospel as Revealed to Me by Maria Valtorta, chapter 352.5/9/11]
I see Jesus walking along a country road surrounded and followed by His apostles and disciples.
[…] Jesus is walking a few steps ahead of His disciples. Only two or three steps, not more, to be alone with His thoughts, as He needs tranquillity after evangelizing for a full day. He is absorbed in thought while walking, holding in His hand a green twig, which He must have plucked from some bush and He lightly whips the grass on the edge of the road with it; He is lost in thought.Behind Him, on the other hand, the disciples have entered into an animated discussion.
[…] They thus enter into discussion on their respective merits. And some boast of being among the first disciples, some base their preferential argument on the influential position they gave up to follow Jesus, and there is who says that no one has the same rights as he has because no one has turned so much by changing from a publican to a disciple. The discussion lasts a long time and if I were not afraid of offending the apostles, I would say that it takes the tone of a real quarrel.
Jesus pays no attention to them. He does not seem to hear them. They have in the meantime reached the first houses of the village, which I know is Capernaum. Jesus proceeds, the others follow Him discussing all the time.
A little boy of seven or eight years runs tripping after Jesus. He overtakes the vociferous group of the apostles and reaches Him. He is a lovely boy with short curly dark-brown hair. His dark eyes shine intelligently in his little dark face. He calls the Master confidentially as if he were very familiar with Him. He says: « Jesus, will You let me come with You as far as Your house? »
« Does your mother know? » asks Jesus smiling at him kindly.
« Yes, she does. »
« Is it true? » although smiling, Jesus casts a piercing glance at him.
« Yes, Jesus, it is true. »
« Come then. »
The boy jumps for joy and takes the left hand of Jesus Who stretches it out to him. With how much loving reliance the child places his little swarthy hand into Jesus’ long hand! I wish I could do the same myself!
« Tell me a nice parable, Jesus » says the boy skipping beside Jesus and looking up at Him, his face shining with joy.
Jesus also looks at him with a cheerful smile, which opens His lips shaded by His moustache and His reddish golden beard, which shines like gold in the sun. His dark sapphire eyes sparkle with joy while He looks at the child.
« What will you do with a parable? It is not a game. »
« It is better than a game. When I go to bed, I think about it then I dream of it and the following day I remember it and I repeated to myself to be good. It makes me good. »
« Do you remember it? »
« Yes, I do. Shall I repeat to you all the ones You told me? »
« You are clever, Benjamin, more clever than men, who forget. As a prize I will tell you a parable. »
The boy no longer hops about. He walks seriously and as gravely as an adult, he does not miss one word or any inflexion of Jesus, Whom he watches carefully, without even worrying where he puts his feet.
[Jesus tells the parable of The Good Shepherd and the Faithful Lamb]
[…] He has stopped near a humble house with a well in front. Jesus sits down near the well where He is joined by the disciples, who are still arguing over their prerogatives.
Jesus looks at them. Then He calls them: « Come here, round Me and listen to the last lesson of the day, you who have shouted yourselves hoarse celebrating your own merits and believe that you will gain a position according to them. See this child? He is in the truth more than you are. His innocence gives him the key to open the gates of My Kingdom. In his simplicity of a child, he has understood that the strength necessary to become great lies in love and that obedience practised with love is required to enter My Kingdom. Be simple and humble, be affectionate not to Me only, but to one another, obey My words, all of them, also the ones I am speaking to you now, if you wish to reach the place that these innocent souls will enter. Learn from the little ones. The Father reveals the truth to them, but He does not reveal it to the wise. »
Jesus is speaking holding Benjamin against His knees, with His hands on the boy’s shoulders. Jesus’ countenance is majestic. He is serious, not angry, but grave. As it becomes a Master. His fairhaired head is a blaze of light in the last sunbeams.
[…] « Come and listen. We shall be parting shortly and I wish to instruct you to perfect you further.
I heard you dispute today, and not always charitably.
[…] Each of you has in his heart a fixed idea, a curiosity, a danger. That is: to be the first in the Kingdom of Heaven; to know who the first will be; and at last the danger: the still human desire to hear the reply: “You are the first in the Kingdom of Heaven” uttered by your obliging companions or by the Master, above all by the Master, of Whose veracity and knowledge of the future you are aware. Is it not so? The questions tremble on your lips and dwell in the depth of your hearts.
Your Master, for your own good, yields to that curiosity, although He loathes giving assent to human curiosity. Your Master is not a charlatan whom one can ask questions for a few coins in the uproar of a market. Neither is He possessed by the spirit of the Python, which assists Him in making money by divining, to comply with the narrow-mindedness of man who wants to know the future in order to decide how “to act”. Man cannot act wisely by himself. God will assist him if man has faith in Him! And it is of no avail to know the future, or to think that one knows it, if one has no means to avert the prophesied future. There is one means only: to pray the Father and Lord that His mercy may assist us. I solemnly tell you that a confident prayer can change punishment into blessings. But he who has recourse to men in order to avert the future, as a man and with human means, cannot pray at all, or prays very badly. As this curiosity may teach you a good lesson, I will reply to it for this once, although I abhor curious and disrespectful questions.
You are asking: “Which of us will be the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?”.
I do not take into consideration the limitation “of us” and I extend the frontiers to the whole present and future world and I reply: “He is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven, who is the least among men”. That is: he who is considered “the least” by men: the simple, the humble, the trustful, the unaware. That is a child, or he who can make his soul be like the soul of a child once again. Neither science, nor power, nor wealth, nor industry, not even good industry, will make you “the greatest” in the blessed Kingdom. It is necessary to be like children with regard to loving kindness, humility, simplicity, faith.
Watch how children love Me, and imitate them. How they believe in Me, and imitate them. How they remember what I say, and imitate them. How they do what I teach them, and imitate them. How they do not pride themselves on what they do, and imitate them. How they do not become jealous of Me and of their companions, and imitate them. I solemnly tell you that if you do not change your ways of thinking, of acting and of loving, and you do not remould them on the pattern of children, you will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven. They know the essential elements of My doctrine, as you know them, but how differently they practise what I teach! For every good action you accomplish, you say: “I did that”. A child says to Me: “I remembered You today, I obeyed for Your sake, I loved, I refrained from quarrelling… and I am happy, because I know that You are aware when I am good and You are pleased”. And watch children when they are at fault. How humbly they confess: “Today I was naughty. And I am sorry because I grieved You”. And they do not find excuses. They know that I know. They believe. They are sorry because I am sorry.
Oh! How dear children are to My heart: there is no pride, no duplicity, no lust in them! I tell you once again: become like children if you wish to enter My Kingdom. Love children, as they are angelical examples still at your disposal. Because you ought to be like angels. As an excuse you may say: “We do not see angels”. But God gives you children as examples, and you have children amongst you. And if you see a child who is physically or morally forlorn and who may perish, welcome him in My Name, because they are greatly loved by God. And he who welcomes a child in My Name, welcomes Me, because I am in the innocent souls of children. And he who welcomes Me, welcomes Him Who sent Me, the Most High. […]