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Jesus Loves Me
Memorial of Saint Maximilian Kolbe, Priest and Martyr
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.
Opening Prayer: Lord, I come before you as your child in this moment of prayer. Grant me simplicity and great love, the heart of a child, to receive the word you wish to speak to me today and to act on it.
- Jesus and the Children: This scene can be painted as a very pious one—little eager faces upturned and listening to Jesus’s words, his hands extended in teaching. Perhaps it was that way. Or perhaps it was as most of us know children to be, especially a gaggle of them—laughing, energetic, eager, utterly receptive, and sensitive to even those things that are unsaid, the love and goodness of Jesus’s very being. Children have a way of grasping what even adults cannot express with simplicity. It is no wonder Jesus loved to be with them. Perhaps his heart rested when he was with them in a particular way.
- Jesus Prays for the Children: We know that God is outside of time, that all things are present to him. In this moment, then, as he prayed with this specific group of children, perhaps all children were present to him. Each name and each face, of all time and history, passing before the eye of his heart—known and cherished by him. What healing grace can be found in this encounter, for the wounds children carry in their hearts are often deeply unseen—unseen by the world, but known by Christ. In this moment of prayer, we can present to the heart of Christ our own woundedness–we are all children before him–and that of the children around the world today who suffer violence, abuse, illness, or other sufferings, that he may extend his healing hands in prayer.
- Such As These: What clearer invitation could Christ give us for how to follow him? To such as these, he said, belongs the kingdom of heaven. Simplicity, openness, trust, eagerness—all these qualities that are natural for a child are also dispositions toward life that help us to encounter and to be encountered by God. But perhaps most important among them is the conviction of being loved by one’s Father God, Mother Mary, and the Church. Let us pray for the grace to become like children again, before our Father who loves us.
Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, you remind me of your special love for children. I pray for the children of the world. You also remind me that I am your child, and that you desire that nothing in this world prevents me from coming close to you. Open my heart, that I may be renewed and strengthened by the healing hands you extend to me.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will strive to welcome the day’s events with the simple openness of a child.
For Further Reflection: In an episode in the first season of “The Chosen,” Christ interacts with and teaches the children. It is a precious contemplation of this mystery.
Beth Van de Voorde is a Regnum Christi Consecrated Woman, currently serving in pastoral ministry to families in Madrid, Spain. When she’s not reading Ratzinger or humming along to some song or another, you may find her making her pilgrim way through Spain’s timeless history of faith, walking alongside the beautiful families she’s there to serve.