Bring the Children to Jesus

Matthew 19:13-15
Ez 18:1-10,13b,30-32/Ps 51

Let the children come to me, do not prevent them; it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.
(Matthew 19:14)

To choose the path of obedience,
Like a little child let me be;
Let me not lose this innocence,
Which is a wisdom gained from Thee.

Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place His hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” When He had placed His hands on them, Jesus went on from there. (Matthew 19:13-15)

Reflection

As if on cue, after Jesus had finished giving a discourse on marriage and divorce, children were brought to Him for His blessing. His disciples tried to prevent them from interrupting His preaching, but the Lord rebuked them. Clearly, our Lord Jesus here revealed His favor for the weak, the small, the innocent and powerless. The last shall be the first, the least the greatest of all. Today’s Gospel passage of Matthew brings to light lessons that we can learn even from the weakest members of society — children. First of all, it is their inno-cence and simplicity that endear children to God. Jesus said, “Unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mt. 18:3). In the process of our growth, as we discard the inno-cence of our youth in the pursuit of knowledge and understanding the world, we inevitably acquire a taste for material pleasures, and their concomitant evils of avarice and greed. The more we gain in know-ledge, power or wealth, the more we may grow in pride and self-reliance, and the danger of drifting farther away from the Father.

Secondly, children’s total dependence on their parents or elders seem to equip them with the capacity to believe and trust that they have nothing to fear even in their state of weakness or vulnerability. In the family’s climate of love and caring, children have an uncanny sense of faith that everything in life will turn out right, and there is nothing to fear or worry about. Have you ever seen a child worry about his future? If we believe in our Lord Jesus’ teaching, and learn to trust His words as a child its own father, “though we walk in the valley of darkness, we will fear no evil” (Psalm 23:4). We will believe His every word in Matthew 6:25-34, and be completely dependent on God’s Divine Providence.

Finally, Jesus is telling us in today’s Gospel that even at their earliest age, we must bring our children to Him, regardless of whether they want to or not. Their moral formation is in our hands; we are responsible for their spiritual growth. It touches us to see our brothers and sisters in our community bring their children to join our fellowship breakfasts and other activities, together as one prayerful family. It is also a joy for us whenever we go to Sunday Mass to see so many little children in church, notwithstanding the racket that some of them make. Who are we to complain? After all, it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.

Thank You for the little children, dear Lord, who teach us the simple joys in life; whose innocence and total dependence remind us of what our Lord Jesus said, that in order to be worthy of Your kingdom, we must be like little children. Amen.

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