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This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are reckoned the children of God, but the children of the promise are reckoned as descendants. (Romans 9:8)
If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:11)
At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" And calling to him a child, they put him in the midst of them, and said, "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. (Matthew 18:1–8)
"Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ!" Each time we pray this familiar prayer to the Blessed Virgin, it ought to remind us that we are children of the promise made by God in Jesus Christ, that all who believe in Him have the power to become children of God ("being sons of the resurrection," Luke 20:36).
Even so, Christ's instruction to become like "one of these little ones who believe in me" ought also to remind us of the example of Christ, the only begotten Son of God. For, though He was (and is and ever will be) "one in being" with His Father, He "did not count identity with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant [or slave], being born in the likeness of men" (Philippians 2:6–7).
Remembering the humility of Christ helps Catholics understand why the one we especially recognize as the Vicar of Christ aptly identifies himself as the "servant of the servants of God." For, through Jesus, those who, in union with God through Christ, do become, as it were, slaves to His goodwill, "For he who was called in the Lord as a slave is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise, he who was free when called is a slave of Christ" (1 Corinthians 7:22).
In obedience to His Father's will, Christ accepted to be the slave of our redemption, even unto death on the cross. While still a child, in human terms, He was about His Father's business (cf. Luke 2:49). So as children of God through Christ, we may likewise be called to put God's calling above the all-too-human bonds of love, respect and obedience. Christ tells us that, by accepting His calling, we become "greatest in the kingdom of heaven."
But from His passion and death we learn that, in this world, the first emblem of such greatness is the humiliation of the cross, to which Christ was staked on Calvary, to suffer and die — all to restore humanity from preternatural darkness to the light of being God intended for us. As good parents rise in the night, responding to their child's cry, Christ rose to meet the need of our salvation.
Elevated to the papacy, Cdl. Jorge Bergoglio took the name of Francis, carefully referring it to St. Francis of Assisi, remembered, above all, for the God-loving humility of the order that bears his name. In the first stretch of his tenure, Pope Francis sought to exemplify that humility, with words and deeds reminiscent of Christ's respect and caring for those the world disdains. But now, his papacy and, indeed the entire body of Christ, His Church, seem bound to a stake of adultery and homosexual sin, and not salvation — in service to priorities dictated by human hubris and ambition, rather than a humble confession of faith in God's rule, and love striving to be obedient to His will.
From so-called climate change to sexual sin, Pope Francis and those he has preferred to high position seem determined to re-enact the vision of the prophet Hosea. He wrote of those in his day who "by their wickedness … make the king glad and the princes by their treachery" (Hosea 7:3). In place of the truth conveyed by teachings rooted in God's written and Incarnate Word, they seem determined to substitute the specious, deceitful and perverse priorities of presently prevalent secular elites, who openly show disdain and even hatred for God and Christ.
This willingness to allow God contemning human rulers to dictate the priorities and leadership of the body of Christ is especially evident in the surrender of papal authority to the anti-Christ government of Communist China. But it also appears in the slavish imitation of contemporary human self-idolatry.
So clerics supposed to represent the truth of Christ's teaching at the highest levels pretend that the Catholic Church can welcome into communion with Christ unrepentant sinners who proudly define their personal identity in terms of passions and behaviors God forbids. They maintain this pretense despite the instruction of Christ — who willingly suffered torture and death to approve His determination to prefer God's will above all human passions and predilections that contradict Him.
By the redeeming power of God, in and through Jesus Christ, are we not restored in the image and likeness of God which He intended to be our nature? How can Christ's renewal of our image of God be made consistent with the image of unrepentant sin, proudly vaunted as the essence of our self-willed life and happiness?
How can the pursuit of any such transformation of Catholic doctrine be consistent with God's authority when it substitutes human will for God's will as the informing rule and algorithm of human nature? How can it be consistent with humble service as good shepherds to God's progeny in Christ, when the clerics who promote it act like the one who "stretched out his hand with mockers; because their hearts burn with intrigue; all night their anger smolders; in the morning it blazes like a flaming fire."
It was better to enact the righteous anger Christ expressed against those who cause childlike believers to stumble into sin. Seminarians bedeviled by highly placed men place in authority over them are, in spiritual terms, the very children of whom Christ speaks. Nonetheless, reports say that the synod to address clerical, mostly homosexual, abuse in February will ignore these spiritual delicts, disingenuously treating "childhood" as if it has only a temporal, not a spiritual meaning.
Isn't the spiritual life of all childlike believers, whatever their age, what is most endangered in the present Catholic crisis? For it focuses on the inculcation of a slavish identity with sin, by people clothed in ecclesial authority. That combination is a potent recipe for falsely worshipful idolatry — fueled by human needs and passions most liable to persist and grow intractably until they consign corrupted individuals to the evil that destroys both body and soul in Hell.
Will a synod that ignores this fatal spiritual threat to all childlike believers be going Christ's way, or opposing it?