Let the Children Come to Me

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:14)

The love that Jesus shows for children is profound. The disciples were dismissive of the parents who sought Jesus’ blessing for their children. They did not want the Master disturbed by little children as he was going about His business of teaching adults. They thought He was too important for them. Yet Jesus turned everything on its head, teaching the disciples and us to be lowly, and to trample upon worldly pride. He receives the little children with open arms and much joy, embraces them lovingly in His arms, and He promises the kingdom to those that are like them. Thus, He emphasises that children can teach us: they are loving, they are forgiving, they have an innocent soul and mind, they are willing to be taught, and they are unencumbered in their thoughts.

“Let us also then, if we would be inheritors of the Heavens, possess ourselves of this virtue with much diligence,” says St John Chrysostom, “for this is the limit of true wisdom; to be simple with understanding; this is angelic life; yes, for the soul of a little child is pure from all the passions. Towards them who have vexed him he bears no resentment, but goes to them as to friends, as if nothing had been done.”

As we learn from children, we come to understand our obligations towards them – that children are our highest and most important investment. St Paisios says that “parents should be very attentive to their children’s spiritual development; they bear responsibility not only for themselves, but for their children as well.” We need to show by example the traits that children naturally possess, so that they can continue to be encouraged to develop these virtues. If we do not live exemplary and pious lives then our children will mimic the bad habits we display.

Therefore, children learn from us, just as we learn from them. We need to invest time in our children and not neglect them through excessive time spent at work, at watching shows, on our mobile devices, and in other things that take precedence over them. More than that, we need to encourage children to come and embrace our Lord Jesus Christ through: daily family and personal prayer; reading the Bible and the lives of Panagia and the Saints; attendance every Sunday at the Divine Liturgy and Sunday School, and other Christian youth groups such as Omathes; and providing them with all the pearls that Orthodoxy has to offer through its sacraments, traditions, and Church activities.

Source: Lychnos October-November 2019