A Wonderful World

12 August 2008. Tuesday of 19th Week in Ordinary Time
Ezekiel 2,8 - 3,4; Psalm 119; Matthew 18, 1-14

There is a little story found in tradition --- thus it is unverified --- that the child Jesus took in the Gospel today was Ignatius of Antioch. He became a great figure in the Church, a theologian, a writer, later martyred and proclaimed a saint. The surname of Ignatius was Theophoros, meaning God-carried, thus the little story: Jesus carried him on his knee.

Anyways, the Gospel tells us that a disciple asked the question: “Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?” Jesus answered by putting a child on His knee to set a visual aid: whoever is like a child is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. What characteristics of children should adults maintain and continually enrich?

Let me take just one. I love children: I like to babysit and take care of my nephews and nieces. I like to run around with them. I like the way they ask questions: their curiosity stems from their sense of wonder. When we say to someone that he or she is wonderful, it means, that their mere presence is something we wonder about. No scientific explanation. It is just awesome to be with them!

Louis Armstrong has this song:

I see trees of green, red roses too.
I see them bloom for me and for you
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.

I see skies of blue, clouds of white
Bright blessed days, dark sacred nights.
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.

The colors of a rainbow, so pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces of people going by
I see friends shaking hands, saying, “How do you do?”
They’re really saying, “I love you.”

I hear babies cry, I watch them grow
They’ll learn much more, than I’ll never know
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.

When we were in Sydney for the World Youth Day, Australian television said that we changed the face of Sydney. Didi, my niece, would say post-event, “There’s no more happy people!” Everyone reverted to their more serious nature, all glued up in their individual concerns.

Because many things can now be explained by science, it does not mean the world lost its awesomeness! (Thanks Kung Fu Panda for this word!). Einstein would wonder about the vastness of the universe, the way that a child would ask questions about anything and everything. In fact, people who wonder sees clearly the kingdom of heaven already present in the world!

We are in the brink of losing our sense of wonder and awe. The Gospel today exhorts us to re-claim what we already had when we were children. People who wonder, and find trees, roses, clouds, skies, the rainbow, and babies crying, are people who could fill the streets of the world with joy. The pilgrims of World Youth Day reminded people that to see the world in the eyes of faith is to rediscover a wonderful world.

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