[We welcome guest blogger Jim Van Vurst, O.F.M., who, along with Jack Wintz, O.F.M., writes the Friar Jack's E-spirations e-newsletter.]
There is a powerful scene in the Gospel of Matthew following the incident of Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. Jesus goes immediately to the Temple to cast out the money changers and all the trappings of the marketplace.
Jesus proclaimed the Temple to be a house of prayer, not a place of business. The religious leaders, of course, were caught off guard and challenged Jesus. How dare he do that? And on whose authority?
But Matthew also offers a curious little detail in that the “Children were crying out, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David.’” And Jesus hurls back a question at the religious leaders, “Do you not hear what they are saying? Have you never read the text, ‘Out of the mouths of babes and nurslings, you have brought praise?’” (Mt 21:16).
Children see things simply, speaking directly because their honesty comes from their hearts and is totally sincere. This is especially true in their relationships with God. We adults often talk to the Lord in rather formal terms. For children, their thoughts and ideas simply spill out, conveying an honesty that is no longer within the capability of many adults.
I was giving a retreat to the Poor Clare nuns in New Jersey several months ago when one of the sisters shared the following statements from children to God that she had found in a magazine.
A teacher asked her students to say something very special to God or to ask God a question. If there is ever a time when God must smile, it’s when children talk to him from their hearts:
“Dear God: I bet it is hard for you to love everybody in the whole world. There are only four people in our family, and I can never do it.” –Nan
“Dear God: Please put another holiday between Christmas and Easter. There is nothing good in there now.” –Ginny
“Dear God: I am American. What are you?” –Robert
“Dear God: Please send Dennis Clark to a different camp this year.” –Peter
“Dear God: Thank you for my baby brother, but what I prayed for was a puppy.” –Joyce
There is a wonderful saying that bears repeating here: “Every time you see an infant or a small child, you see more proof that God still loves our wounded and sinful world.”
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