Child like wonder – Saturday, 19th week in ordinary time – Matthew 19:13-15
There is an innocence about little children that you wish would never go away. As a pastor, I have had my fair share of these little ones who come with no filter. Their words are spontaneous, their actions from the heart and their gestures can melt a hardened criminal.
One wonders then, what was the bee that got into the disciple’s bonnet? Why would these twelve turn away children who were brought for a blessing and a prayer? Why would the twelve speak sternly to those who brought children to be prayed over by Jesus?
There is no evidence in scripture that explains the reason for the disciple’s behaviour. What we do know is how Jesus responds. Jesus does not want those who come to him to be screened. All are welcome, from the insignificant to those who consider themselves to be important. But it is what Jesus says next that gets our attention, “to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”
Jesus is telling us that children have a claim on the Kingdom of Heaven; it belongs to them, and it is theirs. But while adults too are citizens of heaven, we have to be worthy of that citizenship to claim it. Children on the other hand are guileless. Perhaps, that is what Jesus wants us all to be; pure in heart.
But Our Lord, in the Gospel of Luke, also says that unless we receive the kingdom of God like a little child does, with simplicity and awe, we will never enter it. Clearly, Christ wants us to be childlike in our approach to God’s kingdom. Sadly, many Christians have become childish in their approach to the faith.
A childish faith focuses on the peripheries of faith. Who gets to dress the statue of our blessed mother, who leads the procession, how often was someone else allowed to read at the Christmas mass and so on? Let me make this clear – In no way am I trivialising the need for a just way of pastoral governance. I believe that all should be given a fair opportunity to serve the Church. However, when this narrative becomes the be-all and end-all of pastoral growth, then we know that the approach to faith is childish.
Finally on a more pastoral note – We have a wonderful tradition here in India and I presume the same may be said of several parts of the world where parents bring little children after each Mass to be blessed by the priest. But this tradition is also extended to adults in the family. After evening prayers or the rosary, children seek the blessings of their parents. In the eyes of parents and elders, children, no matter how grown up they are, are still their little ones. There is no shame in seeking the blessings of God that come from our parents and elders. Such traditions teach us humility but also teach us to honour our father and mother.
Read also a beautiful meditation by clicking this link – https://www.pottypadre.com/when-jesus-carried-jonathan/
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