REFLECTION CAPSULE: Mt 19: 13-15

*REFLECTION CAPSULE*
*Based on Mt 19: 13-15*

Charles Francis Adams was a 19th century American historical editor, politician and diplomat.
>> His son was Brooks Adams, who became a historian.

A researcher, while making a study on the life of the Adams Family came across their personal diaries.

Both, the father and son, had entered a description of a particular day…
… It was a day when they had gone fishing.

However, interestingly, their descriptions had a world of difference…
>> The father, wrote in his diary:
“Went fishing with son. Day wasted.”

>> The son, however wrote in his diary:
“Went fishing with my father. The most wonderful day of my life!”

Why such a huge contrast in the description of the same day?

The son Brooks, was only twelve years at that time.
>> It was a bad day at fishing as they didn’t catch any fish…
… but they spent a lot of time talking
>> The boy had asked a number of questions, and the father had creatively answered…
… in the process, explained many important aspects about life.

The father, on the other hand, felt it as a waste of time…
… without even any fish being caught!

Our attitude in life makes a world of difference!
>> Seeing the world through the eyes of a child – in openness, sincerity, wonder and innocence – can help us to have “a wonderful day,” every day of our life!

Hence, in the context of a family life, there is a popular quote which says:
“A house is built with bricks and beams…
… A home is built with love and dreams!”

The Gospel of the Day presents to us an occasion to dwell on a reflection on our families…
… and some of the basic essentials that needs to be part of every family (religious community included as well)

Family Life is an important component of every society.

The Gospel of St. Matthew, Chapter 19, has an interesting structure or a progression with respect to the topics discussed and the persons involved.

The chapter begins with a discussion on the institution of ‘Marriage’. (Mt 19: 2-10)
>> Jesus explains the importance of this sacred bond and a strong exhortation is given on the need to do away with divorce.

The chapter proceeds, as we see in today’s reading, with a discussion on ‘little children’. (Mt 19: 13-15)

This discussion is followed by an incident in which a ‘young man’ encounters Jesus (Mt 19: 16-22)

The Chapter will finally end with an exhortation by Jesus to have maturity as an ‘adult’ is making choices for the Kingdom of God! (Mt 19: 23-30)

>> Thus, the Chapter 19 of Matthew is a travel through a FAMILY context…
… starting from MARRIAGE…and the need to avoid DIVORCE…
… to little CHILDREN
… to the problems of a YOUTH
… and finally ending with the choices as an ADULT.

In today’s Gospel, we have the discussion on Little Children (Mt 19: 13-15)

Though it’s a short passage, the Gospel gives us enough food for thought…
… especially in the context of a family or a community life.

We see four different groups or sets of people in today’s Gospel Passage, and we can learn some aspects from each of those sets…
>> Three of them give us a positive quality which is to be inculcated
>> One gives a negative quality which is to be avoided in life.

1. Firstly, the Gospel begins with the statement, “Little children were brought to Jesus…” (Mt 19: 13a)

Probably the parents, the elder brothers/sisters or the guardians of the children would have brought them to Jesus.
>> So we see here, the First set of people… Parents, Guardians, Elders etc…. and they teach us the First Positive Quality – the Spirit of Responsibility!

They were Responsible in caring for the good and future of the children.

It was an ancient practice that children would be brought to Rabbis to be blessed and prayed over.
>> This first set of people teach us to be responsible for the growth of others in our family and in our communities.

2. The Second set of people are obviously the Little Children.
These little ones teach us the Second Positive Quality, needed in a family or a community – the Spirit of Receptivity!

Children display a great sense of receptivity and openness.
>> They are able to accept the affection, the care, the love and the blessings that are given to them.
>> They do not close themselves to the good things in life.

We too need to cultivate this Spirit of Receptivity, to be open to the actions, thoughts, views and feelings of others in our family and our community.

3. The Third Set of people display a negative attitude which we need to avoid.
>> When the children were brought to Jesus, the Disciples refuse to accept them and want to keep them away (Mt 19: 13b)

They show a Spirit of Rejection!

They perhaps felt that these children would be a nuisance to Jesus and His ministry.
>> They felt it as a waste of time and energy to entertain the children.

Little things in life were considered to be a useless and futile activity.

We need to avoid this Spirit of Rejection…
>> In our families or communities, we can have this attitude towards those who don’t do any work or fail to contribute anything.

We often fail to understand the importance…
… of little tokens of love
… tiny expressions of care by our family and community members
>> And we, instead, tend to reject and avoid them.

4. The fourth Set is represented by Jesus Himself…
… and he presents the Spirit of Restoration and Redemption.

He does not reject…
… rather, He accepts and seeks to redeem the little children.

He seeks to restore the little ones who are rejected…
… who are avoided and who are not given the due importance.

In our lives, we too need to be having a Spirit of Redemption and Restoration…
>> To redeem the ones who are at the periphery and who fail to get any attention
>> To restore the ones who are broken and abused and are shunned!

Thus, this powerful Gospel passage teaches us…
>> To avoid the Negative Quality of the Spirit of Rejection…

Rather…
>> To adopt the positive qualities of…
… The Spirit of Responsibility,
… The Spirit of Receptivity
… The Spirit of Redemption and Restoration!

Let us seek the Intercession of our Blessed Mother that we may avoid the tendency to Reject People…
>> And instead, we may be…
… Responsible towards others
… Receptive to others
… and Redeem and Restore the lives of others!
>> And thus build happy and loving homes!

May we always understand that “our attitude in life makes a world of difference!”
>> Seeing the world through the eyes of a child – in openness, sincerity, wonder and innocence – can help us to have “a wonderful day,” every day of our life!

*God Bless! _Live Jesus!_*

*- Fr Jijo Jose Manjackal MSFS*
*_Bengaluru, India_*

——————————–
*Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS)* – “ _The observations of a parent given gently and affectionately have
much more power to correct a child…_
… _than those which are given angrily and wrathfully!”_
——————————–

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