Saint John Baptist de la Salle – Readings

Saint John Baptist de la Salle – Commentary on 2 Timothy 1:13-14, 2:1-3; Ps 1; Matt 18:1-5

 Not surprisingly, the Gospel for today deals with words of Jesus about children. We are told that his disciples came up to him one day and asked Jesus who was the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven which he was always talking about. One wonders what answer they might have given to their own question but it is likely they were quite surprised by Jesus’ response. For he called over a child who was nearby and said to them, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” It must be emphasised that the ‘kingdom of heaven’ is not referring to life after death. To ‘enter the kingdom of heaven’ is to become part of the plan God has for our world, a plan communicated to us by his Son, Jesus. All those who live their lives in accord with the way of life that Jesus has called us to are ‘Kingdom’ people. We might ask what has being like a child a help towards being a Kingdom person? Children obviously have shortcomings due to their inexperience and lack of understanding. However, children at their best are open-minded and eager to learn. They have not yet developed biases or prejudices. That is the kind of attitude we need when God speaks to us. One might say that John Baptist de la Salle had this attitude. It was his openness to God’s will in his life that enabled him to give up what could have been a materially comfortable existence to devote himself to the education of boys from poor families. But Jesus continues, “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.” This was certainly something that John Baptist dedicated his life to doing. He and his brothers took care of thousands of young people in the name of Jesus and prepared them for life. And they continue to do this all over the world.

The First Reading from the Second Letter to Timothy speaks of Timothy being asked to pass on the richness of the message he himself has received. In instructing his companion, Paul says to Timothy: “Take as your norm the sound words that you heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.” And further on he says, “What you heard from me through many witnesses entrust to faithful people who will have the ability to teach others as well.” Words which apply so well to John Baptist. For he had been himself enriched by the years of formation and spiritual reflection and this he passed on to his Brother companions who in turn passed it on to the thousands of students who came into their care. We continue to pray for the La Salle Brothers and their wonderful work and also for all teachers that they may pass on to their students a formation which will benefit them and the society in which they live and work.

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