The Child in Our Midst
When the disciples argue among themselves about who is most important, Jesus reaches for a child, places his arms around it, and offers the child as most important. Whoever receives the child in Jesus’ name, receives the One who sent Jesus. At St. Francis this week, I have been keenly aware of the role children have in our community. This past Sunday, we began sending the children to Break Open the Word in Children’s Liturgy. I was able to see every child at the 8:30 am Mass and those faces were priceless! Jesus was reaching for the children! Jesus was presenting another model of living The Way!
We also began faith formation classes with our elementary, middle, and high schoolers. From 10-11 am and again on Tuesday evening there were children everywhere on our campus. Very generous and Spirit-filled catechists welcomed them to sit in each other’s company to learn about God’s love for them.
Many of us stop what we are doing when we hear the littlest ones who are in Kids Day Out (KDO) as they pass outside our office doors and windows. They are not only God’s delight but also ours.
Jesus was clear in his focus on the children! Adults can go on squabbling, vying for positions. Where does ambition for power and authority lead? We can become jealous of who others are or what they have. We might feel unappreciated, undervalued, and unloved. We can fight about differing ideologies, political persuasions, and religious practices. In the midst of this, Jesus puts children in our midst, embraces them, and affirms them. It’s almost as if Jesus presents the child as a STOP sign! Stop your selfish behaviors and motives!
What would happen to each of us if we became more humble and became a servant, washing each other’s feet regularly? What if we affirm another’s gifts, offer them welcome, and embrace them as Jesus did with the little child? What if we became other focused and began to be grateful for the ways God has gifted us? When we affirm others, we experience God affirming us. We can welcome our gifts and our weaknesses, embrace them, and root out jealousy, selfish ambition and competition.
Children also remind us of our responsibility to create the kind of world, the kind of society, the kind of community and the kind of family we want for them. All of our actions or inactions have consequences for their future. Perhaps we too need to think of them more and less of ourselves. After all, they are learning from us!