Jesus was looking over the shoulders of his disciples as they argued. He watched as a child, looped around with ropes of lilies, played in a puddle fed by the spring rains.
His followers began to exchange verbal blows, each seeking any foothold, any leverage to make himself look better than the rest. Finally the tensions bubbling between the disciples surfaced as a question: "Teacher, who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?"
Jesus broke away from the circle of disciples, dropped to his knees, and stretched his arms out to the child. The little boy ran to Jesus, who swooped him up and spun him around, kicking in the air and shrieking with laughter. The little one slipped his handmade crown of lilies on Jesus' brow, where they dangled lopsided over Jesus' left eye, gloriously spilling diamonds of raindrops down Jesus' beard to sparkle in the golden dust covering his robes. The child took in the vision in silent delight and Jesus took him by the hand.
Jesus stood the child before his disciples and stooped down to child's-eye level. “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.”
In their lowly state, what do children have that gives them privileged access to the kingdom of heaven? They lack cynicism, unbelief, and callousness. Little children do not find in others what they themselves lack.
I learned from my friendship with Richard that those who see only guilt misunderstand the best intentions of faith; those who see only fear misunderstand the best intentions of hope; those who see only greed misunderstand the best intentions of charity; but those who find the best intentions in others see only God.