The Psalm says “Let this be recorded for a generation to come, so that a people yet unborn may praise the Lord.”
And then Jesus tells his disciples in today’s gospel, “Whoever welcomes a child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.” Lk 9:48.
It’s obvious by today’s readings for mass that God loves little children and so does Jesus. Remember the“Jesus Loves the Little Children of the World” that many of us grew up singing when we were children?
“Jesus loves the little children
All the children of the world.
Black and yellow, red and white,
They’re all precious in His sight.
Jesus loves the little children of the world.”
All three of these gospels also record Jesus words, “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.” (Mt 19:14, Lk 18:16 and Mark 10:14) So, children must be pretty important to the Lord. Jesus also warned his disciples, “It would be better for you if a millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea than for you to cause one of these little ones to stumble.”( Lk 17:2, Mk 9:42, Mt 18:6) And one of the more beautiful passages about children in the bible that Jesus spoke of, is in Matthew 18:10, “Take care that you do not despise one of these little ones; for, I tell you, in heaven their angels continually see the face of my Father in heaven.” In Matthew 18:14, Jesus also says, “So it is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost.”
Pope Francis recently mentioned in an interview with the Jesuits that it is not necessary for the church to talk about abortion all the time. His remarks were greatly misconstrued by the press throughout the world, but especially in the US. However, Pope Francis has a point. A judgmental and condemning attitude toward people will not lead to their conversion. Only love leads to conversion. Somewhere down the line, we as a church, quit focusing on evangelizing Jesus Christ’s love for every human person and the beauty and sanctity of all human life. Judgmental and condemning attitudes actually push people further away, whereas love, inclusion, and acceptance draws them near. People’s hearts open up in an atmosphere of love, inclusion and acceptance and they are more willing to listen to what we believe then.
Pope Francis has it right, but this is a difficult balance to achieve. Jesus changed the world through love and acceptance of people. He never judged or condemned anyone, except those who condemned others, like the Pharisees. It was precisely because of Christ’s love, acceptance and inclusion of people that their hearts were converted. The sinful woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears is a good example of a genuine conversion that occurred because of love. Jesus obviously did something to cause this woman to love him so much that she subjected herself to ridicule by the Pharisees, in order to demonstrate her love for Jesus and her repentance. The “something” that Christ did best was to love people right where they were at in life, without judgement.
Let us encourage people to welcome children into their lives, by the way that we accept and welcome these same people, into our own lives. Love alone can heal our broken world and our broken families.
Daily Mass Readings:
Zec 8: 1-8 / Ps 102: 16-23, 29 / Lk 9: 46-50