(Adults, you could read the first paragraph of the reflection to the child, then read the Gospel, and then continue with the reflection.)
When we listen to the Word of God, we hear about people coming to see Jesus. Most of the time, these people are men and women. In the Gospel for this Sunday, though, we finally get to hear about children coming to Jesus.
People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them
Who are these people bringing little children to Jesus? We wonder if they are mums and dads, grandmothers and grandfathers. They want Jesus to touch their children. They want him to bless them. They want their children to be so close to Jesus. We wonder why.
When the children get close to Jesus, though, there is a problem:
the disciples spoke sternly to them
When people speak sternly, they often have a frown on their faces. Why are the disciples frowning? They are not pleased that the children are getting close to Jesus. We wonder why. Jesus talks about important things like the Kingdom of God. Maybe the disciples think that these important things do not involve children. Maybe they think Jesus is only for grown-ups.
But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant
"Indignant" means that Jesus feels angry because this is not fair and this is not right.
It is not fair if children cannot come to Jesus.
It is not right to think that important things like the Kingdom of God do not involve children.
Jesus says to the disciples,
“Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the Kingdom of God belongs.
Jesus wants the little children to come to him. Why?
Because he likes children?
But even more importantly,
because the Kingdom of God belongs to children.
It belongs to children? What does this mean?
What things belong to us? We have shoes and clothes. We have a home and food and a place to sleep. We have toys. These things belong to us.
Why do they belong to us? How did we get them? They are ours because someone gave them to us. They are all gift.
Who gives us the Kingdom of God?
We know that the Kingdom of God is like a tiny mustard seed. Someone gives that tiniest of seeds the strength to grow and become a tree. We know this is a gift. And we know who the giver is.
What else do we know about gifts? We know what we do when we receive a gift. We look for a way to show how thankful we are. We can think of many ways.
Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.
The disciples must be very surprised! They thought that children were not important enough to come to see Jesus. But Jesus says that children are extremely important. Children know something he tells the disciples. The disciples must look at the children, wondering what they know.
We know the Kingdom of God is a gift.
We know it is ours because someone gives it to us.
We know who gives us the Kingdom of God.
We know what we do when we receive a gift.
And Jesus took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.
Why does Jesus take the children up in his arms? Why does he bless them?
Because the Kingdom of God belongs to them?
But even more importantly,
because Jesus loves them.