On the Annunciation last month, I was on my way through a mall to get to the church for Mass, when I saw a little kiosk stand selling matryoshka dolls. These are the Russian dolls that come in sets of five, where smaller ones nest inside bigger ones, until they all fit inside the largest one. Well, I noticed a very small set, the littlest one, that had images of the Madonna and Child. The biggest one is only about an inch tall. I ended up buying it, I’m thinking, “This is a good example of how grace is mediated. This will come in handy for teaching some day.”
So, the Mass was a special celebration of the Annunciation, where about fifteen more men and women consecrated themselves to Jesus through Mary. It was a great evening, and afterwards, on the way out, I showed some friends the little matryoshka dolls. So while we’re looking at them, little Therese comes out. Now, Therese is the littlest child, the littlest one, at the whole Mass.
“Oh, she’ll love this. OK, Lord, now I know why I got these. Now I get it.”
So I sat down, and a big crowd gathered around. First, she saw the biggest doll, which is already pretty tiny. I popped that open, and out came the smaller doll. Therese was so surprised and excited. Then the next one, the next one. Finally, we got down to the next to last one. Now, this little guy is small – only a quarter of an inch at best. It has a little, tiny emblem of the Madonna and Child, and Therese thought it must be the last one. It’s impossible that there could be a smaller one. I struggled and struggled to open it (this thing is tiny). Finally, it popped open, and the smallest little matryoshka doll you could imagine popped out.
Therese leaped and screamed with joy.
And I got a little kiss from the littlest one.
The Blessed Virgin Mary is the littlest one. In the Annunciation, we celebrated the great moment when she received God and His Kingdom with her whole being. In thanks for her gift, she declared her Magnificat, her exclamation of praise for God.
There is only one way to enter the Kingdom of God. We can’t enter by studying theology and religion. Helping the poor won’t get us in either. Living a good and virtuous life won’t get us in. Doing great projects in the Church doesn’t do it. We cannot enter by fighting for political and social justice. And there is no special prayer we can say.
There is only one way:
We receive it like the littlest one.
Like little Therese.
“Let the children come to me, do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” (Mk 10:14-15)