The gospels tell us that Jesus loved children. When people were bringing their children to him to be blessed, his disciples rebuked them. But Jesus scolded the disciples, saying, “Let the children come to me.” Then “he embraced the children and blessed them, placing his hands on them” (Mk. 10:13-16).
Another time the apostles asked Jesus, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Jesus called a little child over, placed him in their midst, and said, “Unless you become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mt. 18:3). And finally, he said, “Whoever receives this child in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives the one who sent me” (Lk. 9:46-47).
Unfortunately, children have not always been respected by adults—even in recent centuries. In the early years of the Industrial Age, for example, child labor was commonplace. Children worked long hours on the farms, in factories, in mines, and as chimney sweeps. In 1788, two-thirds of the laborers in the water-powered cotton mills in England and Scotland were children! Not until the early 1800’s were there campaigns to curb child labor. The first laws seem primitive by our standards today. The laws stated: 1) Children had to be 9 years old to work in the cotton and wool factories. 2) No one under 18 could work more than 10 hours a day. 3) No one under 25 could work the night shifts.
In the late 19th Century, the attitude toward children reflected greater respect and understanding. One of the most significant changes was the introduction of compulsory education in tax-supported schools in which children learned from trained teachers. The establishment of the parochial school system in the U.S. demonstrates the priority that the Church places on the education of children.
We usually think it is we, the adults, who teach our children. But often, it is the children
who teach us. I’d like to share with you a few wise words that came from “the mouths of babes”—or at least, from the mouth of a child.
* A mother asked her 5-year-old son what kind of a day he had at school. He said, “Awesome!” She asked him what made it so awesome. He replied, “Because I wanted it to be.”
* A 5-year-old girl said, “I like the wind because it makes everything dance.”
* A 3-year-old boy was making a mess while taking a bath. His mother told him to calm down. With his arms up in the air, he said, “But I MUST have fun!”
* A 4-year-old girl said, “You might be scared, but sometimes being scared is worth it.”
* Another 4-year-old girl was talking to her new stuffed dog. “You don’t like potatoes. I don’t like potatoes too.”
* A 5-year-old brought home his kindergarten worksheet. It said, “If you could teach everyone one thing, what would it be?” He had written this answer: meditation.
* A 3-year-old girl said, “It’s okay if she isn’t kind to me. I can show her how.”
* A grandmother was walking on the beach with her small grandson, when he suddenly yelled, “I just love being in this world!”
Today you might want to reflect on these questions:
+What impact have children had on your life?
+ Has any child ever taught you an important lesson?
We might also remember in prayer those children all over the world who are living in difficult circumstances–those living with malnutrition, neglect, illness, war, violence, abuse, and those still caught up in terrible child labor conditions.
The video today is based on a book entitled Children’s Letters to God compiled by Stuart Hample and Eric Marshall. I think children can teach us much about prayer through these simple letters.
Did anything stand out for you in this reflection or video? We’d love to hear from you below!
PS: A big THANK YOU to all the folks who attended the Saturday morning retreat at St. Cyril Spiritual Center in Danville, PA. I enjoyed meeting you and interacting with you. You inspired me in many ways. Special thanks to Sister Jean for organizing the morning, to Sister Michael Ann for being my “tech person,” to the food service staff for a delicious dinner, and to all the Sisters for their warm hospitality.