Jesus and the Children as role models
Although Jesus did not have children of flesh, his infinite love, tenderness and compassion he shared with men and children. His devotion to children was such that he set them up as models of simplicity, chastity, innocence and purity of soul.
His admiration for children is such that he dared to say: “Whoever welcomes this child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the One who sent me” Lk 9, 46-50 despite that at that time children were tolerated, not taken into account, even, they were not even counted as “people”.
Growing old was seen as the ultimate achievement, on the contrary, being a child had no relevance or meaning. The elders, and even the disciples themselves, separated the children from Jesus, because they believed that they only represented a nuisance and that talking to them was “wearing words”.
What was Jesus’ position towards children?
Jesus, as always, broke paradigms and gave his people (and disciples) a great lesson by showing children as a role model and by demanding that they be like them.
Jesus: Knowing the children
One day, Jesus’ disciples wondered who was the greatest? This episode was the consequence that on one occasion they could not save a demoniac and began to blame each other.
Jesus always knows our thoughts, feelings and what is in our hearts, of course, his disciples were no exception, he decided to save them from bitterness by approaching a child and told them: “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me; because the smallest of you, that is the greatest.”
When we are adults, we forget the innocent way in which we saw life when we were younger, we begin to judge others and ourselves, we let ourselves be carried away by our fears, we envy others. Jesus teaches us that we must return to that essence and innocence to receive him in our hearts.
On the other hand, when we are children we have no ambitions, our soul is pure, it is not afraid of not being worthy or being judged, it acts according to its impulses and enjoys what makes it happy without thinking too much. Our Lord loves and embraces these children; he allows himself to have them close to him, because they imitate him. Jesus tells us in Mt 11:29: “Learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart”.
He knows the grace of children, which is why he talks about them with such enthusiasm and joy. In Matthew 11:16, Jesus tells us about the parable of the children who play the flute for their friends and play imaginary cries.
These paragraphs offer us two great teachings: The first: Those who wish to be the greatest must receive the poor of Christ for their honor. Also, it encourages us to be innocent and not malicious or ill-intentioned. The second: He will be greater who loves his neighbor, especially the most humble, but also recognizes his indigence before God.
Let us remember that God is the one who always provides us, without him, we would have nothing. Our food, shelter, family, life, we owe everything to him, therefore, we must always act from the heart, glorify him and give thanks for everything he gives us every day.
What value do children have for Jesus?
For Jesus, a child is not valuable for their physical appearance, but for a treasure that only they possess: the grace and purity in their soul.
Sometimes we make the mistake of believing that because we are adults we cannot learn from them, on the contrary, if we start paying attention to them, we will realize how wise they can be. surprised with a question or an answer? Learn from him! Because it is God who is speaking to you.
The bible tells us:
“From the mouths of children comes the praise that pleases God” (cf. Mt 21, 16)
“It is they, the children, who know, the intelligent, because it is to them that God has given his word and the depths of his mysteries” (cf. Mt 11, 25)
“Let the children come to me” (Mk 10, 13-16)
So why do you turn a deaf ear to their concerns, questions and complaints? Why, instead of acting like the disciples and taking them away from you, do you not bring them close to you and marvel at their infinite love?
Looking at these images of Jesus and the children , what does it convey to you? what can you see?
Jesus deeply loves children
For the Jews it was a custom to present their children to the rabbis so that they could lay their hands on them and receive the blessing of the heads of the synagogue and the children and disciples received the blessing of their parents, that is how, later, they began to take his sons to Jesus so that he could lay his hands on them.
On a certain occasion, the Master Jesus, was sharing his teachings to his disciples, when they noticed that parents and children were approaching, they did not make any claim to the parents, however, to the children they did, in fact, they separated them from the Master’s side, because they assumed they would disturb him or interrupt his teachings, when in fact, they only did it because they felt love, trust and wanted to learn.
The kingdom is to be received as a child receives it. If we observe that one of them approaches the presbyter, we do not prevent him or claim him, on the contrary, let him approach, this shows us his interest in the call of Christ, his body and his blood. As adults, let’s be a guide, let’s teach our children and young people to pray, make prayers for the Blessed Sacrament, for themselves and for the family.
Jesus is asking us, “Let the children come to me and don’t stop them, because the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like them.”
Jesus not only constantly seeks ways to show us his deep love for our children and young people, but also emphasizes to us through his word (Gospel) that we must be and act with simplicity. The cleanliness and humility of our spirit is an essential requirement to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. And Jesus wants us all to arrive, so he invites us again and again to be like children.
What does it mean to “be like a child”? That our virtues are transparent, they are not corrupted and sweetness, humility, good disposition and desire to learn are always present. Their hearts are always open and they do not contradict the spirit, they do not judge the path that God has traced for us, for this reason, it is important to involve them in catechesis and invite them to participate.
Let us try to promote in ourselves, but above all in our children, virtues such as: innocence, being simple of heart, not lying (sincerity), credibility, docility and willingness, especially to discover (without judging or questioning) the path to reach and achieve belonging to the Kingdom of God through his word (Gospel).
Jesus cares about children
According to Saint Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus said: “And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. In the same way, the heavenly Father does not want even one of these little ones to be lost (Mt 8, 1-5. 10. 12-14).
The Bible also tells us: “Rebuke those who look at you with contempt” (cf Mt 18, 10); points out, above all, the harshest punishments for those who scandalize a child (cf. Mt 18, 6), and even gives us a somewhat mysterious reason for Jesus’ special concern for our children: “Because his angels see from I continue in heaven the face of my Father which is in heaven” (Mt 18, 10).
Did you know… the guardian angels of children are in the front row in heaven? Yes! They are in the front row telling God about the adventures of other children.
Let’s pause for a moment and remember that the Pharisees professed to have the right to the Kingdom of Heaven, however, this is a privilege granted as a gift from God , which must be received with “child’s attitude”, that is, not as a demand, but as a gift from God.
Can you imagine the reaction of the disciples and other adults? They couldn’t help but wonder, do they have to be like a child to enter the kingdom of heaven? But what if a child is small and weak? There is no doubt that they felt a mixture of surprise and disappointment.
Yes, children are small, but also humble, they have no ambition, no bad intentions, they do not know envy or seek privileges. They are not greedy or boastful. They recognize their littleness and weakness, that is why they are so humble before the father, they are so willing to follow in his footsteps and receive him with such joy and happiness. That is the meaning, or rather, the true meaning of “becoming like children”.
Another request that our Lord Jesus makes of us is: “He who does not renounce himself cannot be my disciple.” Be clear about how small we are before God, this is how Jesus wants the apostles to be, his disciples and each one of us as believers and practitioners of his word.
Developing a great disposition to serve him, adore him and glorify him, to accept his greatness, is part of the service that has been entrusted to us as his children, as his people, as his believers. Complying with this is what will differentiate us and make us children (at heart). Dependent, trusting and surrendered entirely to the omnipotence, omnipresence and greatness of Jesus Christ our Lord.
Nor should we forget that welcoming a defenseless, humiliated, marginalized brother, poor in spirit is welcoming God. Everything we do for others, we also do for Christ.
To be like children is also to suppress ambition and envy for material things, a promotion, and even a life partner from the heart. We know that it is not always easy, because humility is sometimes overshadowed by our ego and human nature. Let us renounce those desires for power, of pretending to want to control everything and everyone, let us trust in God’s plans, in his actions and in everything he offers us day by day.
It is understandable, sometimes we despair, because we want money, food or material things, but reflect for a moment on the following: Isn’t it enough for you to be alive? Being healthy, having a roof over your head, your daily bread, breathing, seeing, listening, isn’t that enough to thank and glorify God? He never abandons us, he always takes care of us, protects us and gives us everything we need.
Let us trust in the protection of God, and let us remember that regardless of our age we never stop being children for our mother, just as we will not stop being children of our beloved mother Mary, Mother of God and Our Mother. Let us ask him to be like those children that Jesus wants us to be.
Jesus heals the children
Mk 5,39 “And entering he said to them: Why do you make a fuss and cry? The girl has not died, but she is asleep ”
A beautiful verse that tells us the story of how Jesus healed a 12-year-old girl, whom he tenderly calls “Thalita”. This girl represents the children of yesterday, today and tomorrow.
A girl, like many of our sons and daughters, can be reborn by following in the footsteps of our Lord, and just as she did, in this new awakening, she will require food, not only for her physical body, for strengthen and grow, but also food for your soul, prayers, values, love and care to become a good man or woman.
Children who grow up with a biblical example of life and become good men and women, are adults who fervently believe in God, have solid foundations in their beliefs, nothing shakes their faith and are willing to help whoever needs it, working from love, compassion and tenderness, just like our Lord Jesus Christ did.
The faith of the Canaanite woman (Mt 15:21-28)
A woman who believes in Baal (the deceitful, cruel, fornicating and vengeful god) desperately goes to Jesus to cure her demon-possessed daughter, shouting at him: – “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David. My daughter has a very bad demon.”
He didn’t answer anything. She prostrated herself and continued: – “Lord, help me!” I know that it is not good to throw the children’s bread to the dogs, but the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table, at such a request, the teacher replied: – “Woman, how great is your faith: May what you wish come true.” Immediately leaving her daughter cured of her.
What message does this story leave us? That the woman, despite Jesus’ initial silence, knew what she was asking for, she demonstrated her faith and she was not afraid to prostrate herself and acknowledge the greatness of God, even though her belief was different from hers. She knew that Jesus could help her, so she asked and asked until God granted her request.
*Baal is the symbol of the devil and “baals” is the same as saying “demons”. It was precisely one of those demons who possessed the little body of this pagan girl, but the faith and humility of her mother made her richly rewarded with the miracle of Jesus.
Jesus raises the son of the widow of Nain (Luke 7:11-15)
Unlike the previous biblical story or episode, this woman does not ask Jesus for anything, neither for her nor for her son, it is he who realizes the deep pain that this mother is going through, who in addition to being a widow, now also he had lost his son. Jesus approached and exclaimed: “Young man, I tell you: get up”. Get up and grow, inside and out.
The message that these verses leave us is that God knows our sorrows, our battles and sufferings. He always offers us comfort and a helping hand when we need it most. Again, the message of trusting his word, his way and keeping our faith even in difficult times is reinforced.
Jesus cures the son of a royal official (Jn 4, 46-54)
In Capernaum there was a king whose son was very sick, when he heard that Jesus was coming from Judea to Galilee, he did not hesitate for a moment to look for him to pray for his son who was already beginning to die. Then, Jesus said to him: “Unless you see signs and wonders, you will not believe.”
The King, in the midst of his desperation and anguish, begged Jesus: – “Lord, come down before my son dies, to which the Master replies: – “Go, your son lives”. The man believed his word and left. Upon his return, the servants welcomed him with joy and said – “Your son lives!”
This shows us that faith ultimately generates miracles, and more, if it is a child; Let us not seek to see and then believe, on the contrary, let us ask with faith, believe in the power, protection and word of God and it will be given to us.
And how do children respond to Jesus? In a loving and trusting way. Just as he loves them, they love him. Children have a sixth sense and would never approach someone who did not arouse in them a feeling of trust or love.
The call of Jesus to spiritual childhood
Jesus not only loves children, but also presents them as a part of himself, an extension of himself, so he tells us: “Whoever receives one such child for me receives me” (Mt 18, 5). This phrase goes deeper (spoken or written as follows): “Whoever welcomes one of these little ones in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me, but the one who He has sent me” (Mk 9, 37).
We could describe the life of Jesus as a life with eternal childhood, in the sense that he lives in permanent purity, cleanliness of soul, absence of ambition and selfishness.
Ambition, envy, selfishness, is what stains our spiritual childhood, that is why Jesus asks us to remain faithful to that childhood, to continue being children, to be like children again (cf. Mt 18, 2-5 ).
What did Jesus ask of Nicodemus? To be reborn of water and of the Spirit (Jn 3, 3) What condition did he place on his apostles to enter heaven? Become like children.
It is important to note that this “childhood” that Jesus asks of us has nothing to do with childishness, which is synonymous with rudeness, capriciousness, immaturity or selfishness, but rather, the reconquest of that innocence, of that interior cleanliness, of the sample and vision of things and others.
It also refers to that beautiful childhood where there is a sincere smile, it is authentic and there is no fear of being judged. It is about sharing generously, acting selflessly, being simple and humble spiritually speaking. Do not possess unhealthy ambitions or bad intentions. Do not judge others.
Spiritual childhood represents unlimited trust in God as our Father and in the Virgin Mary as our Mother, it is maintaining a serene faith and love without conditions or limits. It is essentially not letting the heart age, keeping it young, tender, sweet and kind, without demanding accounts or guarantees from God.
It is important to take into account that spiritual childhood does not mean “ignorance of things”, but rather, knowing them, looking at them or thinking about them “as God would”. The manipulation of information and prejudices bring with them an unhealthy intention of one or those who believe they are intelligent, but in reality, they only take advantage of the spiritual childhood of those who follow them.
Spiritual childhood does not imply or represent a life without problems, that we isolate ourselves from everything and everyone, that we blind ourselves to a reality, but rather have the sensitivity, awareness and maturity enough to understand that although the world does not always it is pink, although sometimes we will fight battles (some stronger than others) everything that happens in our lives has a purpose for our father.
Instead of asking why me? act as a victim, and from pity, let us trust and ask with faith. There is no problem that prayer does not help or at least does not give us the strength, the wisdom or the necessary tools to emerge victorious from it; And before the cross that we all carry, put on a serene, confident and even smiling face.
So what are the characteristics of spiritual childhood? The main ones or the ones that we should emphasize the most are four, among them: Openness of spirit, simplicity, primacy of love and filial feeling of life.
We must be especially careful with these characteristics of spiritual childhood and not confuse, it is openness not closure, it is simplicity, not arrogance, it is primacy of love not of the head, and lastly, it is a filial feeling, not fear or distrust.
The angels have the great task of removing the layers that we have been accumulating throughout our lives as a way to “protect” us, but protect us from whom? If God does not seek to harm us. The most sensible and logical response would be to protect ourselves from ourselves, from our own fears, from our anxieties, from our negative feelings.
We mistakenly believe that in this way and only in this way can we be reborn again and unleash that child that lives inside us but we had forgotten along the way because of that armor that according to us protected us but that only hurt us and condemned us to a life of suffering. , disappointments, heartbreaks, mistakes, uncertainty, bitterness and anger, which, over the years, become something physical and we begin to get sick and age.
We have a great task: To be like children! That, as we have already seen and repeated on several occasions throughout this article, requires a large dose of humility and simplicity in our thinking, work and spirit.
If we want to enjoy the long-awaited “Kingdom of Heaven” we must pass through the narrow gate, and this means surrendering to God, opening our hearts to him, receiving him with joy. Don’t judge or question his word. Children are the future, the greatest treasure, our greatest teachers, they are the ones who give that sweet and innocent touch and make this world more bearable.
In the Kingdom of God there will only be children, children of body and soul; Martín Descalzo says that if God had created a humanity of only adults, centuries ago this world would be perverted, corrupted and rotten, therefore, God constantly renews it with waves of children and generations after generations with the aroma of hope, vigor, union, love. , peace and transformation of all of us who live in it.
Let’s not allow that child that lives inside us to be poisoned and corrupted by our ambition for power or the absurd need to be recognized. Let’s not allow the ego to control our lives. Let’s go back to that initial connection, to our essence, to what we are by nature: Children of God. The narrow door of childhood is the only way to reach the heart of God and receive his divine grace, mercy and infinite love from him.
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