In Matthew 19:13-15 Jesus asks to be with the children. Perhaps that’s what we need more of in today’s troubled world.
Children were brought to Jesus
that he might lay his hands on them and pray.
The disciples rebuked them, but Jesus said,
“Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them;
for the Kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
After he placed his hands on them, he went away.
Especially recently it seems, we live in troubled times. Danger lurks everywhere. Evil is popping up on every street corner, populated in every group. Talking with our ancestors, they might have said the same thing. The friend of my friend is my enemy.
There is another way of looking at other people as Jesus looked at them. He had a special affinity for children. They were innocents, not yet jaded in their view of the world nor had they become wise to the ways of the world.
Deep down inside each of us lurks a child. He or she is protected by a shield of experience, and we use this shield to ward off people we see as bad or evil or dishonest or dangerous. Some of them, of course, are any or all of those. But most are people like us, hardened by a view of the world steeled either by direct experience or by a vision suggested by others. In many ways, we need to dig deep down inside to recall the essence of that child within us to make us more approachable to others.
Now, in today’s reading, Jesus was literally talking about letting the children come to Him. He wanted to touch them and bless them and give them grace. And in our world, it is important that we introduce our children to Jesus the Christ that He may touch their lives, bless them, and give them grace. But we as adults need to let Jesus touch the child within us as well.
There is a lot of mistrust or distrust between people and peoples of the world. A good example was seen in the clash in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend. There were people of ill will marching in that city. People who wanted to do bad things. But there were also people with them who are hurting and misunderstanding and distrusting because of their experiences. In the clashes in the city, no one was listening to one another. It was a seething disorder of anger.
It’s hard to deal with people intent on doing evil. If that’s what they are there for, that’s what they will do. But not everyone was there to do evil. Some where there to address grievances. Some were there to protest the evil. Some where there to protect others.
What Jesus wants us to do is let Him touch that child within us, that child with the open heart, the child who listens, and reach out to the person with grievances. That person who misunderstands. That person who has been deceived. That person who is angered but can be calmed. Those people have children within them as well, children who can be reached within their shields. And if we let Jesus work through us, maybe He can reach down through that shield and touch their hearts, bless them, and bring peace to them. “Let the children come to me.”
Protests often come to clashes because no one is talking and no one is listening. Of course, some are more stubborn about it than others. But if we go with the peace of Christ intent on letting Jesus do the work, maybe there would be less clash and more peace.
There was a “freedom protest” in Boston this weekend involving many (not all) of the same groups as appeared in Charlottesville. The evil groups were far outnumbered by the peaceful groups. Perhaps there, Jesus was given access to the “children”, because clashes were few and minor, and everyone had a chance to “protest” in peace.
Glory to God!