Jesus often points to children to teach His disciples (and us) about what it means to be a Christian and a follower of Him. Of course, we all recognize the significance of children in terms of them being the foundation for the future, and their basic innocence and purity.
However, children were examples of something even greater to Jesus. Children then (and in large part today, as well) had no legal status in society. Because of their physical and mental youthfulness, children are very reliant on others, as they cannot do everything on their own.
In the gospels, Jesus imitates a child to make it clear to His disciples that they are called to lives of service. The fact that the disciples had been discussing among themselves “who was the greatest” showed the Lord that they did not fully grasp the meaning of discipleship. Status is irrelevant to being a disciple. Being of service to those in need, to those who cannot cope by themselves (i.e., a child) is what truly qualifies a person to be a true disciple of Jesus.
The Bishops of the United States issued a pastoral letter on stewardship titled Stewardship: A Disciple’s Response. Just as the Lord pointed to service as a key to being a disciple, our approach to living as good stewards, to the practice of stewardship, does the same. Being a disciple and being a good steward are not easy. That is why Jesus indicates that to be first in His Kingdom we must sometimes consider ourselves to be last. If all of us chose to be the last ones to leave Mass and the last ones out of the parking lot, we might have another problem, but it would not be the one that sees folks leave after Communion and then become impatient trying to depart.