The Least in the Kingdom
3rd Sunday of Advent, Year A
3-6 year olds
The very last thing Jesus says in the Gospel for this Sunday seems a little strange. He has been talking about his cousin, John the Baptist. Remember John the Baptist from last week? He is the man who was telling the people to repent, to turn around and notice that the Kingdom of God has come near. We wondered about that, because it seems that the Kingdom of God is hidden, but we thought maybe it is all around us and we just have to know what we are looking for.
Today, after Jesus talks about John the Baptist, he also talks about the Kingdom of God. He says first that John the Baptist is a prophet. Remember prophets? People who sat so still and listened so carefully that they could hear God speaking to them, and then they told everyone what they had heard. Jesus says that John the Baptist is the greatest prophet. But then he says,
"the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he."
The least means the littlest, the smallest, the one you wouldn't notice or pay attention to. And Jesus says, the least in the Kingdom of God is greater even than John the Baptist. What can this mean?
God seems to choose the small, the least. Have you noticed that? Look where Jesus was born, the small land of Israel. It is not a big country like Canada, Australia or the United States!
And within Israel, Jesus was not born in the most important city, the most holy city of Jerusalem. Instead he was born in Bethlehem, a small, unimportant town. The prophet Micah heard God speak about this. He heard:
But you, O Bethlehem, who are one of the little clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to rule in Israel
I was talking this week with some children about this. I wondered why Jesus was not born in the most holy city of Jerusalem. The children said that Jerusalem was already holy, but that Bethlehem became holy when Jesus was born there. Bethlehem became important when God came, because God was there.
So, the least, the littlest, the small become great when God comes.
Do you know anyone who is little? Do you know anyone who sometimes feels too small to do what they need to do? I know I feel that way sometimes. Do you?
But Jesus says, in the Kingdom of God, the least are great because God is with us.