Read Joshua 24:14-29, Psalm 16 and Matthew 19:13-15
_“Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven” *(Matthew 19:14)*_
Yesterday was about marriage. Guess what? Today is about children. How wonderful. My earliest memories as a child growing up were those times we would gather as a family every morning and evening to pray. Daddy made sure we prayed the entire rosary every evening even though it was more of a sleeping tablet for us. And in the morning, we would pray from the simple prayer book.
At this time, we were still learning how to read and write so we didn’t really understand much of the prayers, but because it was a consistent daily affair, we so got used to the prayer that we memorized it. Honestly, I hated the sound of “wake up, wake up, lets come and pray” I felt cheated out of my sweet sleep. Sometimes, I grumbled only to get a slap on the back, but you see, gradually we all became used to assembling at the parlour for compulsory prayer.
My first real gift was that precious book “My Book of Bible Stories.” I so much cherished this book because of the picture stories and the simple explanation of Bible Stories. It was more of a companion to my English Reader. While the English Reader talked about Agbo, Edet and Simbi, my Book of Bible Stories talked about great characters like Abraham, Joshua, David, Moses and so on.
Attending Catechism classes with that red small book “The Penny Catechism” just solidified my faith for me. Having read and memorized the entire Penny Catechism, I was set to face the world. Thrilled by the immaculate white Cassock of the seminarian teaching us catechism and the gorgeous attire of the priest at mass every Sunday, my mind was made up about what I wanted to do in the future.
I am relating these personal childhood experiences in the hope that it might inspire some parents who seem to care less about the kinds of books or social media their children are exposed to today. Jesus tells us in our Gospel passage “Let the children come to me.” The question is: Do we make deliberate efforts to bring our children to God?
It pains me when I see fully grown adults who never attended Catechism classes. It pains me when I see parents who do not gather their children for COMPULSORY morning and evening prayer as a family. I did say we never liked it, yes, we grumbled and whined as kids, but with time, we so got used to the prayers that any day we didn’t gather for the prayer, we were now the ones to remind mummy or daddy, “are we not going to pray today?”
It pains me that today children are introduced to Facebook long before they get to know who Jesus really is. It pains me that in the name of “economy is hard” parents no longer have time to check the contents of their children’s textbooks or make out time to teach them about God at that early stage. It takes just 5 to 7 years to train a child. If at age 8, a child is yet to know God or develop a solid conscience (have a sense of right and wrong), that child may never get it right later.
In our first reading today, Joshua tells the people of Israel: “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Take note, Joshua did not say “as for me alone”, he said, “as for me and my house” that is, his children have no choice but to follow him to serve God. It is not for us to allow our children to dictate to us whether or not they wish to serve God. *It is our duty to ensure God is number one in their lives.*
In conclusion, if Jesus took such a hard stance on divorce, I believe he had the benefit of children in mind. It is God’s will that both parents take care of children. I guess that is why God did not create us to be hermaphrodites.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, may I never hinder any child from You, Amen.
*Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Saturday of the 19th Week in Ordinary Time. Bible Study: Joshua 24:14-29, Psalm 16 and Matthew 19:13-15).*