When the disciples tried to keep the little children away from Jesus, He forbade them to do so. Jesus instead invited the children to come to Him and said that the kingdom of heaven belongs to those like them.
As Christians, what are we doing today to remember Jesus’ words? Are we also inviting the little ones to come to Him? Or are we somewhat responsible for keeping them away?
The children that we see today do not only represent the citizens of God’s kingdom. They are the future citizens who will lead our world. They are the ones who could make a difference for the generations to come.
I feel sad whenever I see young people who seem to be going farther away from their Godly inheritance. This includes the little children as well as those who are very young.
Youth should be a time to learn and to be equipped to take the right path in life. But it seems our culture wants to give them everything else but what is truly necessary for their formation.
What happens to the young who were kept away from God?
While we have the responsibility to provide children with their physical needs, we should never forget their spiritual nourishment.
We can make their minds and bodies grow and teach them all the science and technology they can muster. But if we do not teach them about God and their eternal soul, all we’ve ever worked for would be in vain.
How many children do not even know that there is a God who loves them and cares for them? How many children get involved in various mishaps all because they do not know which way to go?
Bullying and petty crimes would not be the end of the matter. Let us remember how many children have been involved in mass shootings, ending the lives of many and forfeiting their own future in the name of useless violence.
It is not the children who must carry the burden of educating themselves and choosing the right path. It is the elders who should know better. We are the ones who should prepare them every little step of the way until they grow into spiritual maturity.
The responsibilities of the older generation
Those who are older can’t simply sit back and blame the next generation for whatever tragedy the world enters into in the future.
We are tasked to do what we can to help little children find their way to God.
Parents, teachers, elder relatives, concerned friends and pastors should never stop looking out for the little children who have a right to know their Divine inheritance.
Let the catechists be ever more fervent in sharing their knowledge with these little children. Let the Church devote more time as well as fitting programs to keep the youth away from drugs and other threats from their environment. Most of all, let parents be the very first models of virtue and teachers who can guide their children until they attain wisdom that comes from above.
“The home is the natural environment for initiating a human being into solidarity and communal responsibilities. Parents should teach children to avoid the compromising and degrading influences which threaten human societies.” (CCC 2224)
The challenges of raising Godly children
It will not be easy. Considering that we live in a world that grows more and more secular each day, we have to double our efforts to counter the negative influences of our culture today.
As the financial burden of each family increases, it also becomes more difficult for parents to find time to educate their children. Even sending them to a Catholic private school could be more costly than sending them to a public one.
But what is the cost that should prevent us from saving the souls of these little ones?
We must learn to balance our priorities and think about the eternal destinies of these children instead of thinking only about their earthly future. We must also learn the value of sacrifice, heroic sacrifice. It means we need to sacrifice some of our comforts and conveniences so that we can accomplish the greater good.
Forming Godly children can’t simply happen in a day. We can’t bring them to Jesus by inviting them once to Church.
What can we do to invite the little children to Jesus?
To bring the little ones to Jesus is not simply to bring them physically to Church. While it is a good start for children to attend mass and to be familiar with our Catholic faith, their formation starts long before they attend our Sunday Eucharistic Celebration.
Here are some of the things we can do to draw the little children closer to Jesus:
1. Teach your children the basics of the Catholic faith
Parents are the first teachers of a child. We can’t wait for teachers, pastors and catechists before your children learn about God. They need to hear about God from you first.
2. Tell the young ones Bible stories before bedtime
A habit is something that can be helpful in forming the minds of young ones. Although it’s almost impossible for kids these days to be without their mobile phones, set aside time when you can tell them stories. Simple stories with good values and truth.
One of the best times to tell them stories is before going to bed. If you make this a routine, they will have something to look forward to each night.
3. Be available for your children
Availability is something that every child needs from one’s parents. Much of the lessons they learn are caught in daily life. They learn from every little thing you say and do.
If working from home can help you to be around them more, perhaps you can take this into consideration.
4. Practice having a regular prayer time at home
Going to Church should not be a child’s first or only experience when it comes to prayer. They can start to learn to observe silence while praying at home.
5. Give them good role models to follow
Since you cannot always be with your children, you can help find them other good influences. This can include other Catholic families with kids who can grow up together with your children. This can include even distant relatives and friends who can provide a good example by the very witness of their lives.
6. Watch movies with Christian values
Time for leisure can also be used to teach children indirectly. You can let them watch good movies that can open their minds to good lessons in life.
7. Don’t give up
Not everything will work according to your plans. Many times, even your best plans can fail. What you must remember is that you shouldn’t give up.
Your strength may not be enough, but God can give you the grace to carry on.
God loves our little children. He cares for them even more than we ever could!
This should help ease our minds from worries and help us find hope in raising our little ones closer to Jesus.
Remember that many times, it is the little things we patiently do each day that can make a big difference in the long run. So persevere in teaching them, set a good example and ask God to provide you with everything else you need for the sake of these young ones.
Jesus Christ is the One who invites them to come. Let us let the children do so by guiding them and teaching them the way by which they can meet God.
“Then little children were being brought to him in order that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples spoke sternly to those who brought them; but Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.’ And he laid his hands on them and went on his way.” – Matthew 19:13-15 (NRSVCE)
You may also want to read “How Do You Live as a Catholic in a Godless World?”
Jocelyn Soriano is the author of the book Defending My Catholic Faith.
“Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope.” – 1 Peter 3:15 (NABRE)