When Jesus raises up a child in his arms and tells his followers that we must become like children, his point is not about educating children, nor about encouraging the best out of children, as important as that all is. Jesus’ point is far more radical and subversive. Jesus publicly embraces a child with care, which in itself was a “lowly” action reserved for women. Is it a boy or girl? The gender would have made a difference given the cultural norms, but we’re not told because it does not matter to Jesus. Jesus commands his disciples to welcome children, all children, which, because children are the lowest rung, means his followers are to welcome everyone, even the last imaginable. Everyone has a place within God’s embrace, which is a drastic reversal of the norms. Jesus radically confronts the existing structures of power and privilege and piety and purity: Jesus (not Caesar Augustus) represents the God of Gods, and children represent Jesus. We could ask, why was Jesus so attentive and compassionate toward children? He had been a child, a vulnerable, powerless, probably-jeered child.
- Br. Curtis Almquist, on the "Monastic Wisdom for Everyday Life" web page