“Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:14)
It is quite instructive that just after Jesus spoke about the indissolubility of marriage in God’s plan, people started bringing children to Him. Surprisingly, the disciples of Jesus tried to stop the children from getting close to Jesus. Unfortunately, this same reality continues to play out today. It is sad to see that children of our days are introduced to Facebook long before they are privileged to have a personal encounter with Jesus.
A parent once asked a priest: “At what age do I start teaching my child how to pray?” The priest asked in return: “How old is your child now.” She replied: “He will be four years in two months.” “Then you are four years late already,” said the priest.
Get the point, if children are shielded from religion during their tender years, they may never get it right again. If they are lucky later in life to develop some close relationship with God, it might not be in the same Church with that of the parents. This is because these children grew up with the wrong impression about their parents’ Church.
I have seen many devout Catholic parents complain bitterly about how their grown-up adult children developed a very strong hatred for the Catholic Church. These children didn’t just leave the Church, they became committed to pulling out as many Catholics as possible.
As a parent, did you unintentionally teach your children that religion is all about pretence? Did you allow your kids to attend catechism classes at all? Did you make efforts to organize bible study with your children? Did you practice what you preached? Just as no one can give what they do not have, do not expect your kids to remain Catholic if they never had a solid understanding of the Catholic Faith coupled with the living saintly exemplary conduct of their parents.
Jesus tells us in today’s Gospel passage “Let the children come to me.” This is a very important instruction. Allow your children to come to Jesus. Never assume that they would not understand. Come to think of it, if your children can understand cartoons (which they often consume excessively), what would stop them from understanding Bible Stories?
In our first reading today, Joshua tells the people of Israel: “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Take note, Joshua did not say “as for me alone”, he said, “as for me and my house” meaning that his entire household is carried along. Make efforts to carry your children along. Paying millions of dollars (or naira) for school fees will never make up for what you fail to impart on them at home.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, may I never hinder any child from you. Amen.
Bible Study: Joshua 24:14-29, Psalm 16 and Matthew 19:13-15).