by Amy Freeman, a University Scholar at Baylor University. Amy is involved in St. Peter’s Pro Life ministry.
“Let the children come to me, do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”
And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands upon them.
Mark 10:13-16 (RSV)
This upcoming Sunday, the Twenty-Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time, we will hear this Gospel passage proclaimed to us at Mass. The little children in the passage whom Jesus blesses are dependent on their parents. Jesus points to them as a model of the humility and childlike trust with which we should approach God. Like a loving parent, God carries us in His arms and cares for us. As the Gospel reminds us, let us come to the Lord as His little ones.
This seems to be a theme lately in the Mass Lectionary. Two Sunday’s ago Jesus pointed to a little child as a model, and on Monday we heard Luke’s account of the same story. This was a fitting passage for the feast day of St. Therese of Lisieux, who exemplified and showed us the Little Way of complete trust in and dependence on our heavenly Father.
In the Gospel passage, not only does Jesus remind us of our littleness and God’s tender love for us, but He shows us how we are to love all God’s children. Recall the Gospel from two Sunday’s ago which I previously referred to (along with Luke’s account of the same story):
And they came to Caper’na-um; and when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” But they were silent; for on the way they had discussed with one another who was the greatest.
And he sat down and called the twelve; and he said to them, “If any one would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”
And he took a child, and put him in the midst of them; and taking him in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.”
When we welcome a little one, we welcome the Lord!
There are many ways that we can receive God’s little ones everyday, from donating money to good causes (such as the missions collection in Nigeria last Sunday), to caring for a sick relative, to having coffee with a broken-hearted friend.
This morning, seven people from St. Peter’s Pro-Life Ministry and friends prayed a rosary in front of Planned Parenthood. We go at 7:50 every Thursday after Morning Prayer, and you are welcome to join us! Thursday morning is the day when women undergo abortions here in Waco when the abortionist comes to Waco (please pray for him, too!).
It is not only children who have been born, but also children still in the womb who are little ones and examples of dependence. Infants who are not yet born rely completely on their mother for nourishment and protection, and they cannot even cry for help. Our prayer and witness at Planned Parenthood is one good way that we care for God’s littlest ones, the unborn, when they are unrecognized or unwelcomed by their mothers and fathers and workers in the abortion clinic.
But of course, prayer must not be limited to Thursday mornings. Wherever and whenever you can best pray, please pray that pregnant mothers all over the world will welcome the children whom they bear in their womb as Christ. Even if we never see any effects from them, our prayers and works of mercy to protect infants in the womb for love of Christ are never wasted. Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me. (Matthew 9:37). And whoever gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he shall not lose his reward. (Matthew 10:42)
In this Gospel, Jesus takes the little child in His arms; may we rest snugly in God’s embrace. And let us entrust ourselves and all God’s little ones to the Lord.
Here is a prayer from St. Augustine’s Confessions, Book 4.XVI that seems especially fitting to pray this week:
O Lord our God, in the shadow of your wings let us hope, and protect us and carry us. You will carry us, you will carry us both little ones and even up to gray hairs you will carry us, because our strength, when you are our strength, is then strength; but when it is ours, it is weakness.
Yours in Christ,
O Domine deus noster, in velamento alarum tuarum speremus, et protege nos et porta nos. Tu portabis, tu portabis et parvulos et usque ad canos tu portabis, quoniam firmitas nostra, quando tu es, tunc est firmitas; cum autem nostra est, infirmitas est.
Picture source: http://stupiddynalearns.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/child-jesus.jpg