August 9, 2022
by Kimberly Grassmeyer
Creighton University's Interdisciplinary Leadership Program
click here for photo and information about the writer

Tuesday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 414

Ezekiel 2:8—3:4
Psalm 119:14, 24, 72, 103, 111, 131
Matthew 18:1-5, 10, 12-14

Praying Ordinary Time

Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

Praying in Times of Crisis

Children have always been a source of delight and wonder to me.  As a girl, I loved to ‘babysit’ and as a mother, I loved being with my young sons as they found joy in every day.  For many years, I’ve been quite intentional about reinforcing and showing my regard for young children that I see in public; most often accompanied by an adult or older child, I will look first to the face of the child, smile and wave in a childish fashion, and watch their faces (usually!) light up at being acknowledged.   The other morning, a neighbor child walked to the car with his father, beneath my open window.  His cheerful chatter immediately lit my smile and lifted my spirits – such is the power of pure innocence and an as-yet unsullied trust in the world. 

Today’s reading reminded me why my very natural affection for children is just, well, TRUE and RIGHT.  Jesus loves the little children… all of the children of the world… they are precious in his sight… Jesus loves the little children of the world!  It caused me to recall with love my Grandmother, who showed nothing but pure love and respect for all of her 24 grandchildren.  Grandma Alice expressed her faith and her love of Jesus in her treatment of us – never lording over but rather, as the Gospel reading from Matthew suggests, becoming humble and receiving each of us as a gift from God.  The memory has deeply moved me in its revelation that my current practice is not unique in the world; it is mimicry of (and I hope a tribute to!) Grandma’s loving behavior. 

Jesus called us to love our neighbors as ourselves and, in this reading, to humble ourselves and become like children.  I don’t believe he is asking that we forego the responsibilities and seriousness that accompany adulthood.  But I do believe that he is imploring us to not become so cynical and sinful that we can no longer engage with and appreciate God’s creation through the innocent, trusting and joyful eyes of a child. 

Jesus is also asking us, through his parable of the shepherd, to never give up on our ‘strays’ – those around us, young and old alike – who venture away from their faith.  God doesn't desire that anyone be lost, and it is our charge to remain hopeful, trusting, and joyful in our faith so as to inspire others and find our place in God's Kingdom.  

I hope for you that you see the smile, hear the singing, or experience the joy of a child today – and that when you do, you are reminded that Jesus has given you permission - in fact, has invited you! – to join in.   God bless you!

Kimberly wrote this reflection on these readiangs in 2018.

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