We give thanks to God

Love little children

Intro

It is right to give God thanks and praise. This month, our prayer is one of thanksgiving to God for His wonderful gift of children. Those of us who are chosen to have children, are inspired in our commitment to their care, by the devotion shown by our Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph to their son, our Lord Jesus Christ, within the context of the Holy Family. It was a devotion which endured, from the very beginning to the end and beyond, throughout the harshest and cruellest of circumstances. As parents, as adults we must love our children and support them, even when our lives, our beliefs are challenged. But why should we, as mere mortals continue to sacrifice our own dreams and wordly aspirations, to ensure the happiness and wellbeing of our children?

The baby Jesus

Jesus was born to a mortal, Mary, and reared in domestic and natural circumstances, within a family, He didn't just appear, fully grown and formed, as a powerful entity. God realised that if He was to be accepted, then His natural love and empathy for all humans, even those who disbelieved, must be manifested amongst them in the recognisable form of baby, child, teenager, man.

The selection of Mary, herself a young virgin, to be the mother of His child, and Joseph to be His earthly father, was such an important part of this fulfillment. God realised that for centuries after the Holy birth, His people would still need that vision of a helpless baby, loved, protected and worshipped by devoted parents, against great odds, to instill in them the strength and belief to never give up, to never stop believing in life itself.

Persecution of children

His life as documented for us in the Bible, was to say the least, challenging for Jesus. His parents suffered unwanted hardship prior to and after his birth, taking flight to save their very lives shortly after he was born. His was not to be a sheltered, glorified existence on this earth, in golden temples or palaces, worshipped by all and sundry. No, He had a humble upbringing, incumbent with certain deprivation which such a life invariably brings.

There are times when the wilfull persecution of children can be indistinguishable from the indifference to their suffering due to the consequences of our actions. Over the existence of this blog, we have highlighted the crimes that have continued unabated against babies and children, from abortion, starvation, deprivation, and death due to wars, and other policies fed by the wordly, selfish desires of mankind. Again, we can draw the parallels between these times and those in which Jesus Christ was born and lived. It is surely part of the divine purpose.

Jesus and children

The Virgin Mary was blessed amongst women, but she was as human as any mother. And it was those qualities which her son appreciated, as she continually made sacrifices for Him. The love for her child was reflected in his own feelings for little children. But there was a far greater significance in his teachings to his disciples on how those most vulnerable and dearest to us, should be treated.

In Matthew's Gospel, Jesus teaches us that unless we turn/change and 'become like little children' we will not enter the kingdom of heaven. It is not necessary to have influence, power, control or standing in society. As a little child has none of these accomplishments, and is completely dependent upon his or her parents, so too must we trust 'in a loving Father, a trust that awaits everything and grabs at nothing.' Jesus goes on to say: 'Whoever, therefore humbles himself like this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven'. But Jesus also stresses the need to behave towards the 'little ones' in the right way, as much as becoming like a little child. 'Whoever accepts one such little child in my name, accepts me.' This much is beautifully re-emphasised in Jesus and the Children. The people were bringing children to him for the laying on of hands. His disciples rebuked the people, and this in turn angered Jesus into making one of his most emphatic declarations: 'Let the little children alone and do not prevent them coming to me: for of such as these is the kingdom of heaven'. As is stated in The Gospel of Matthew by Michael Mullins, the little children now join the company of 'the poor in spirit' and 'those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness' of whom Jesus also said that 'theirs is the kingdom of heaven' (Mt 5:3,10).

Other sources and children

Poets and writers have written about the special meaning to them of the child in life. In his work A Cradle Song, William Blake wrote these wonderful words:

Sweet babe, in thy face,

Holy image I can trace,

Sweet babe, once like thee,

Thy maker lay and wept for me.

A mother watches over her little baby, experiencing the joys and aspirations of a parent for her helpless little infant. She believes in God and His creation on earth and sees in her child's cries the weeping of the Saviour for all humanity. The poem or lullaby ends by observing that, as the baby’s smiles beguile his mother, so the smiles of the infant Christ beguile "Heaven & Earth to peace." It is through the process of incarnation that God restores a damaged, sinful world to a state of childlike innocence. Every time a child is born, the opportunity to trust 'in a loving Father ...and enter into the Kingdom of Heaven' is presented to all of us.

The sacraments and children

The sacraments of Baptism, First Confession, Communion and Confirmation are necessary for the growth of the child's spiritual and moral life, throughout his or her development as a being in the likeness of God. Before a child has reached its thirteenth or fourteenth birthday, it will have been very well prepared for the challenges that lie ahead. These children must be accepted in the name of Jesus and must never be turned away under any circumstances.

Conclusion

We thank God for the gift of children, but our thanksgiving must amount to more than lip-service. We must never turn them away, ignore them, take them for granted or persecute them. Each time a child is born, we can be redeemed, by restoring ourselves to a state of innocence and trust in The Father. Let us truly, therefore, thank God by our actions in loving His little ones, and helping to make the world a better place for them and us to live in.

Prayers

We thank God for the gift of children. We pray for their protection and the protection of their souls. We pray that their innocence and trust in God may be restored to us so that we may ultimately enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. May they be reared believing in God and his sacraments.

References

See May intention 2014, this blog

See December 2014 intention, 'Thy Will be Done

'See February 2014 intention, 'Give us this day Our Daily Bread'

Pg 404, Mt 18: 1-14, Part 4, (The Discourse on Community Life), The Gospel of Matthew, by Michael Mullins, Columba Press, 2007J.P. Meier, Matthew, 201.Mt 19:13//Mk 10:13//Lk 18:15-17

www.gradesaver.com/songs of innocence and of experience...