by Jake Hall

published in Family Matters e-newsletter, 11/7/13

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Three verses in the 19th chapter of the Gospel of Matthew came to life last week, during the Year of Faith celebration at the Vatican. The moment paralleled the text in such a way that reporters were googling the gospel to get the comparison right. 

In the Book of Matthew, Jesus and the disciples were preaching the gospel and offering healing and blessing to the people. Children were being brought to Jesus.  Annoyed by the presence of these little ones, the disciples spoke sternly to those who brought them.

During this celebration of faith and family, as thousands gathered, a little boy from a group of children remained on the platform.  He hugged the Pope, and he ushered waiting worshippers to shake the Pope's hand. He even sat in the pontiff's chair, much to the chagrin of various cardinals and other modern day disciples who were "encouraging" the boy to sit down.

Pope Francis, taking a cue from this gospel passage, offered welcome and blessing to the boy. 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.

This Sunday, we have the opportunity to bless and to be blessed by the children in our midst. On this Children's Sunday we will lift up the little lives among us and celebrate the ministry of our youngest members. I imagine that we will enjoy the music, laugh a little, and smile proudly at these adorable youngsters. They will add a wonderful, fresh voice to our worship together. You may think this service is about us ministering to children; it is. Yet, at some point in the service, I pray that we will realize that it is the children who are ministering to us.