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.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Our Gospel today is a familiar one. We often see images of Jesus sitting in a field with smiling, agreeable, tidy children gathered around him. While kids can certainly fit this picture at times, they can also be unruly, obstinate, and anything but well-behaved. This must be just how God sees us! At our best, we are loving and generous and responsive to God’s invitations in our lives. But at other times, not so much.
When Jesus says to the disciples “let the little children come to me,” we are reminded that we too can be childlike in God’s eyes. It is easy to think of examples in my life when I have been short tempered, unwilling to listen, and selfish. But, like the children Jesus calls in the Gospel, I am nonetheless fully loved by God. The First Week of the Spiritual Exercises helps us to come to understand ourselves as loved sinners. How does that play out in your desire to draw closer to Jesus?
—The Jesuit Prayer team
God of my life
Only in love can I find you, my God.
In love the gates of my soul spring open,
allowing me to breathe a new air of freedom
and forget my own petty self.
In love my whole being streams forth
out of the rigid confines of narrowness and anxious self-assertion,
which makes me a prisoner of my own poverty and emptiness.
In love all the powers of my soul flow out toward you,
wanting never more to return,
but to lose themselves completely in you,
since by your love you are the inmost center of my heart,
closer to me than I am to myself.
But when I love you,
when I manage to break out of the narrow circle of self.