One day the disciples were arguing about which of them was the most important. But Jesus knew their thoughts, so he took a little child and stood him by his side. Then he said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me, welcomes the one who sent me. And listen: the one who is found to be the least among you all, is the one who is the greatest.”
Then John spoke up, “Master, we saw someone who drives out demons by calling upon your name, and we tried to forbid him because he doesn’t follow you with us.” But Jesus said, “Don’t forbid him. He who is not against you is for you.”
In today’s gospel reading we hear Jesus say: “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me.” Unfortunately, in our modern society children are not welcome in at least three ways.
First, millions of children around the world are savagely assassinated in the womb of their mothers and are disposed of by various sophisticated chemical, pharmaceutical and mechanical techniques. The mass media protest against the death penalty for criminals. But there is no protest in major magazines against the death penalty for innocent unborn children.
Second, motherhood and homemaking have been so devalued that many stay-at-home moms describe themselves with these words: “Oh, I’m just a housewife.” As if raising a child (an immortal being who will outlive the galaxies) were not the most important job in the universe!
Third, few parents spend quality time with their children because of their career, job, social life, etc. Yet, time is the greatest gift they can give their children and the only gift that can assure children of their personal value and self-worth.
We can see that the teaching of Jesus is more relevant than ever. If we do not heed it and if we keep rejecting children, we are courting disaster.
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