Is. 9:1-6; Eph. 1:3-6, 15-18; Mt. 18:1-5, 10
A Jewish child was not considered mature until he reaches twelve years of age when he was given permission to read and study the Law or Torah. Before that age the child did not possess knowledge of the Law which rabbinic teaching held indispensable for salvation. It was a Jewish custom that on the Sabbath parents bless their children. On the Day of Atonement, even children were made to fast and the Scribes would bless them. But since they had no knowledge of the Law, they were an image of immaturity and childishness; they were incapable of accepting the teaching of Jesus nor could they become his disciples. Thus, it would be a waste of time for Jesus to give them attention, so the disciples thought and they prevented them to approach Jesus.
In our days, parents prevent children from knowing Jesus by their neglect to spend quality time of love with their children, to show them a balance of love and discipline, of respect and responsibility. In many cases children are uncared for, abused and maltreated, sold or given away. Some time ago, the newspaper reported of thirteen children imprisoned by their own parents, three were chained to their beds, all of them filthy and under nourished. I was greatly horrified when I learnt that abortion clinics would sell the aborted babies to satanic cults for human sacrifice. The more babies aborted the more human sacrifices offered to the devil.
The family is where children are to be nourished and nurtured physically, emotionally and spiritually. The less trauma and the more affirmation and love a child experiences, the greater are the chances that he/she will grow to be a better person. It is in the family that a child is to learn obedience and respect, care and devotion, faithfulness and commitment, truthfulness and honesty and all the virtues of a good child of God. There is no substitute to a loving family in which children can grow to maturity. Even Jesus submitted himself to this law of human life choosing to be born to a couple, and of the working class at that.Jesus says, “The Kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these,” and “whoever does not accept the Kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.” A child is truthful, innocent and without malice. But more than these, a child and disciple of Jesus must acknowledge his littleness, insignificance and powerlessness before God. I must recognize that I am weak and little in the presence of God and accept it. While the Pharisees exhibited the pride of righteousness, affirming that the Kingdom was achievable by external observance of the Law, the child/disciple of Jesus must first of all be HUMBLE and the child is the objective standard of humility required of a disciple. A child is totally dependent on his/her parents for all his/her needs, look to them for protection and security, help and support in all undertakings. Salvation, achieving the Kingdom, is not by my efforts or talents or resources, but by the loving mercy of our Heavenly Father. He is in control and all that I am and have comes from Him. This is the true thinking and attitude of a true child of God. St. Leo the Great in his sermon on the Holy Child, added some virtues we should acquire: “the fast appeasement from irritation and speedy return to calm, the total oblivion of offenses, the absence of craving for honors, the love of companion- ship, a sense of natural equality, (wherein we accept everyone: white or black, rich or poor, educated or illiterate), not to know how to harm others and not to enjoy evil.” Senor Sto. Nino have mercy on us and mold us into your image and likeness. Amen.