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Matthew 19:13-15

The Word of God

Then little children were being brought to him in order that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples spoke sternly to those who brought them; but Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs." And he laid his hands on them and went on his way.

Matthew 19:13-15
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    • The disciples were not too happy with children taking up the time of Jesus. It seems like the adults were their priority but Jesus says, “it is to such as these that the Kingdom of Heaven belongs.” What is it about children that they are considered so important and have ownership of the Kingdom of Heaven? Perhaps their inquisitiveness, vulnerability, openness, inclusiveness, lack of prejudice, ability to play and have fun?
    • Which of these childhood qualities might you have let go of as you moved into adulthood? Perhaps it might be time to ask the Lord to rekindle or strengthen a childhood quality that might enable you to accept the love of God more freely.
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    • This is one of the most moving scenes in the Gospel: Jesus welcomes the children and blesses them and proclaims that the kingdom of heaven belongs to them and to those who are childlike. I look at my attitudes, and ask to become more childlike, with a more trusting and welcoming heart.
    • Every day we hear of more horrible instances of child neglect and child abuse, throughout society, and sadly, even in our own churches. I pray in sorrow at this profanation of children’s trust, and for the healing of abused and abusers. I ask Jesus to help the Church learn from its mistakes and become a space where the safeguarding of children is a real priority.
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    • Children are always a challenge to us. Am I one of those who bring children to Jesus, or like the disciples who turn them away, for one reason or another? Do I believe it is good for children to be near Jesus, to know him better and love him as a friend and benefactor? In prayer, I bring some children I know to Jesus, to lay his hands on them and say a prayer.
    • I thank Jesus for the children in my life, for they teach me so many things about the kingdom.
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    • This scene is beautifully human: the good parents want a blessing for their little ones; the disciples feel that Jesus is for grown-ups only; the tender love of Jesus for small people. Because children in Jewish society had no rights they could not dominate anyone, which is why Jesus says that the kingdom of heaven belongs to them rather than to the powerful who dominate others. We have to admit of course that even early on, children can try to dominate others, including their own parents!
    • Dear Lord, whenever I try to get the better of others, through arguments or by getting my own way at others’ expense, let me remember the small children. In this way I will live close to God.
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    • In this passage, children are taken as representing those whom the world considers unimportant; similarly the parable of the lost sheep (Matthew 18:12-14) teaches that the least of all in the eyes of the world is as important as the greatest of all in the eyes of Jesus. This reminds us that the weaker people are, the more they require our care and concern.
    • Let us pray today that we may deepen our respect for those whom the world holds in low esteem.
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