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Day 32 of Lent: Make room for a child

March 18, 2013

Verse for reflection: When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Mark 10:14

I remember one morning when our youngest was just approaching three. She woke up too early, so I put her at the kitchen table to eat while I continued the business of tidying up and getting ready to go to work.

“Sit there and watch me,” she requested with milk dribbling on her chin as I rushed through the kitchen.

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Again I was stopped in my tracks by a child, causing me to consider what is really important in life. Is it more crucial to wash the dishes before going to work, or to spend a few quiet moments with my child?

I’m convinced children are placed in our lives to remind us of priorities. They tug at our trousers. With their actions they say, “Pity me!” Children remind us, if we’ll listen, that we were children once too who needed attention, hugs and direction.

Consider the child Jesus. Mary and Joseph did for him all the things normal parents do. They wiped his nose, cleaned messes, fixed food, kissed hurts, mended toys, told stories, and patched squabbles with siblings. This was divine work for Mary and Joseph.

But parenting can be divine work for us, too, nurturing sons and daughters of God into beautiful men and women.

Just because Mary and Joseph were raising a divine child didn’t make it easy. Remember when Jesus was twelve and “got lost” from his parents? His parents expressed outright exasperation when they found him. And surely there were many other incidents we’ll never know about.

When one child spilled her cereal, another wanted help picking out yet another outfit, and the third needed help looking for a lost library bookthinking of parenting as divine work made my fuse a little longer. It is also helpful to think of mothers where tangles are not over spilled milk, arguments about clothes, or a missing book. Being aware of families living for endless years in refugee camps, or apartments without heat, or kids left to fend for themselves while moms get high—helped me slow down and be more present to dear moments with my children.

I do wonder though what Jesus would say to us who profess to follow and love him, about the indignities so many children suffer. … “When Jesus saw this, he was indignant.” Surely some of his forty days in the wilderness that we recall during Lent were spent pondering the great needs of his world—and ours too.

What do you think?

Action: Take time not only for a child, friend or loved one who needs your attention, but consider how God may be calling you/us to divine work caring for God’s children.

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From → Faith, Family Life

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