Of Elders, Children and The Greatest Among Us

Blessedly, today finds me working from my home office. This is a rare occurrence in my life at the moment — for the month of October I’ll be in my home zip code for only five days. That craziness is fodder for another post, but today I thought I’d share some fruit from my morning prayer time.

Days like today are a treat. A chance to linger with the day’s readings, to prayerfully consider them myself, and then to be fed by Pope Francis’ homily help to set a “right start” for my day. And today, for reasons I’ll explain in future posts, I needed the spiritual pick me up provided by the liturgy of the word.

In my own prayer time, my thoughts went to the very last words of the portion we read today from Luke’s gospel:

Jesus said to him, 
“Do not prevent him, for whoever is not against you is for you.”

I began to think of the many times I’ve categorized fellow co-workers in the New Evangelization: liberal, conservative, holy roller, questionable, or “bat-sh_ crazy”. (Though I don’t have the guts enough to say that word out loud, I think it far too often!) When John replies to Jesus that the disciples have been trying to stop pretenders from casting out demons in Jesus’ name, Christ schools him with that quote you read above.

I could easily be on “Team John” in this situation: “Look at xyz blogger, God. He’s not doing it right.” With a few simple lines of scripture, I’m reminded in no uncertain terms that it’s definitely not my place to judge anyone. Especially when I’m so flawed myself.

After these ruminations, I was treated to Pope Francis’ homily for today. The excerpts included in most of the coverage of the homily seem to focus more on the first reading from the start of Zechariah 8. A portion of it really caught me by the heart:

Thus says the LORD of hosts: Old men and old women,
each with staff in hand because of old age,
shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem.
The city shall be filled with boys and girls playing in its streets.

This is the portion Pope Francis employs as a teaching point in his homily:

From Vatican Radio:

“The future of a people is right here…in the elderly and in the children,” he said. “A people who does not take care of the elderly and children has no future because it will have no memory and it will have no promise! The elderly and children are the future of a people!”

Pope Francis warned that it is all too easy to shoo a child away or make them calm down with a candy or a game – or to tune out the elderly and ignore their advice with the excuse that “they’re old, poor people.”

Coming to me after a weekend spent in the company of my child, my sister and brother-in-law and my parents in Boston, these words were especially poignant. How often do we neglect those closest to us to give our time to more “important” tasks or work? (Blogger raises hand.)

Efficiency, care and excellence are important qualities, especially in the manifestation of the New Evangelization. Yet today’s feast of scripture reminds me that the very backbone of “Church” is love, compassion and Christ-like care — especially for those who may be deemed least able to “contribute”.

“Whoever receives this child in my name receives me,
and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.
For the one who is least among all of you
is the one who is the greatest.”

I’m not in charge, but the One who knows and loves me absolutely is. And that’s perfect.

How am I treating the greatest among us?

About Lisa M. Hendey

Lisa M. Hendey is the founder and editor of CatholicMom.com and the bestselling author of The Handbook for Catholic Moms and A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms.


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