Matthew 19:13-15

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

I opened the newspaper this morning to read that Archbishop Bernard Francis Law, the former leader of the Boston diocese of the Roman Catholic Church, has died. While he did many noteworthy things in his long service to the church, he will always be remembered for his role in covering up the rampant abuse of children that had occurred, and been covered up, for years. Such abuse was a nightmare for the victims and their parents, and a dark stain on the church that will never be removed. The best we can do is learn from it and be vigilant that it never happens again.

But it will.

Despite the obvious priority and concern that Jesus demonstrated toward children, they will always be vulnerable to the big people in their lives. They will ever remain largely powerless in the grander scheme of things. By definition, they are dependent on others to make decisions and take actions in their best interests.

Two of my grandchildren and my daughter currently live with Kelley and I. They lost everything in the flood this year. Their home remains stripped to the bone, still waiting for the right contractor to start the rebuilding process. They came home last night to see the presents that my daughter had bought and carefully wrapped for them under the tree. They noticed them immediately and we got to hear those first squeals of delight that children bring to Christmas. It is easy for me to imagine Jesus scooping them up into his arms, assuring them that everything will be OK in time.

The strange thing about this text today is the reminder that the disciples “spoke sternly” to the adults who brought their children to Jesus for prayer. Can you picture that scene in your mind? Jesus’ handlers, his closest advisors, didn’t want him to be bothered with children. Why waste his time with children when there were far more pressing concerns…or so they thought. Jesus put children first and so ought we.

Many in our country are celebrating a decision to change our federal tax policies. Those supporting the decision are congratulating themselves for the courage to cut tax rates for corporations and individuals. Others point out that this will lead to greater spending deficits and another massive increase in the federal debt. Why mention it now? Because decisions like this defer the consequences of debt to our grandchildren and their grandchildren’s grandchildren. Children who need schools, health care, and public safety now and always.

When Jesus hoisted those children unto his knee with the words “for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs” his actions were a visible threat to all of the older people who were the first to say that things “belong” to them. The disciples who thought that Jesus belonged to them. The rich who think that everything they have “belongs” to them. The powerful who think that they can do whatever they can get away with because their power “belongs” to them.

Let the children among us remind us: Nothing belongs to us. We are caretakers of creation. We are stewards of the gifts of God. Always. In all things. “Is this going to be a good thing for children?” remains a central question in that stewardship.

Let us pray: Dear Lord, thank you for every opportunity you give to us to take good care of children. To provide what they need, to teach them what they need to know, to channel their energy and curiosity toward good ends. Thank you for loving the adults who brought their children to you by caring for their children in safe and holy ways. Give us that child-like faith that protects us from childish actions and ideas. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


2 Responses to “Matthew 19:13-15”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Thank you.

  2. Carolee Groux Says:

    Besides Matthew 19:14, Mark 10:14 and Luke 18:16 tell this same story. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.

    We learn that those who do not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein. This shows how powerfully Jesus felt about children, and we should also value them; for in them lies our future.

    Enjoy the youngsters gathered round you this Christmas at home, at church or in your neighborhood. They are precious in His sight, and so also in ours.

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