JOSHUA 24: 14 – 29
In those days: Joshua spoke to the people, saying, “Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness; put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River, and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. And if you be unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. ”Then the people answered, “Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord, to serve other gods; for it is the Lord our God who brought us and our fathers up from the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage, and who did those great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all the way that we went, and among all the peoples through whom we passed; and the Lord drove out before us all the peoples, the Amorites who lived in the land; therefore we also will serve the Lord, for he is our God.” But Joshua said to the people, “You cannot serve the Lord; for he is a holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions or your sins. If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, then he will turn and do you harm, and consume you, after having done you good.” And the people said to Joshua, “No; but we will serve the Lord.” Then Joshua said to the people, “You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen the Lord, to serve him.” And they said, “We are witnesses.” He said, “Then put away the foreign gods which are among you, and incline your heart to the Lord, the God of Israel.” And the people said to Joshua, ‘The Lord our God we will serve, and his voice we will obey.” So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and made statutes and ordinances for them at Shechem. And Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God; and he took a great stone, and set it up there under the oak in the sanctuary of the Lord. And Joshua said to all the people, “Behold, this stone shall be a witness against us; for it has heard all the words of the Lord which he spoke to us; therefore it shall be a witness against you, lest you deal falsely with your God.” So Joshua sent the people away, every man to his inheritance. After these things Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died, being a hundred and ten years old.
The Word of the Lord.
Psalm 16: 1 – 2a, 5, 7 – 8, 11 (R.) 5a
R/. It is you, O Lord, who are my portion.
Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord.”
O Lord, it is you who are my portion and cup;
you yourself who secure my lot. R.
I will bless the Lord who gives me counsel,
Who even at night directs my heart.
I keep the Lord before me always;
With him at my right hand, I shall not be moved. R.
You will show me the path of life,
the fullness of joy in your presence,
at your right hand, bliss forever. R.
Matthew 11: 25
Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the kingdom.
MATTHEW 19: 13 – 15
At that time: Children were brought to Jesus that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people; but Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” And he laid his hands on them and went away.
The Gospel of the Lord.
[22:25, 13/08/2021] Tk: REFLECTION: All Are Welcome
August 14, 2021
Children were brought to Jesus that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked them, but Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them…” (Matthew 19:13–14)
In the Catechism of the Council of Trent, which was promulgated by Pope Saint Pius V, this passage is linked with infant baptism. It states, “Besides, it is not to be supposed that Christ the Lord would have withheld the Sacrament and grace of Baptism from children, of whom He said: Suffer the little children, and forbid them not to come to me…” (II, 2, 32). This teaching clearly indicates one of the best ways that this passage is fulfilled today. Inviting even infants before they reach the age of reason to receive the Sacrament of Baptism fulfills this loving command of Jesus to “Let the children come to me…”
Young children do not have the ability to rationally understand love in its purest form. That comes with the age of reason, which has traditionally been understood to be around the age of seven. But children, and even infants, are capable of receiving our love and are capable of receiving the love of God, even if they do not yet fully comprehend this gift.
As a child grows, they learn what love means as they witness it and experience it, especially through the mediation of their parents. This helps form their consciences in such a way that they become capable of making their own free choice to love as they mature in age. But if a child is to grow into a loving adult, they need more than just a good example, they need grace. The grace of Baptism is the primary source of that grace in their lives.
It’s easy for many to see Baptism only as a nice ceremony to welcome the newly born child into God’s family. And though that is true, it is so much more. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that Baptism bestows an indelible mark which “remains for ever in the Christian as a positive disposition for grace, a promise and guarantee of divine protection, and as a vocation to divine worship and to the service of the Church” (CCC #1121). In other words, Baptism bestows upon one’s soul a gift that can never be removed and becomes an ongoing source of grace. And when an infant is baptized, it’s as if this Scripture passage above is perpetuated throughout that person’s life. Because of this sacramental grace, Jesus continually says to this baptized soul, “Come to Me.”
In addition to the grace of Baptism, we must all imitate Jesus’ action of welcome and acceptance of not only children but of every child of God. Though the disciples initially tried to prevent the children from coming to our Lord, we must not. We must understand that there is a real temptation within our fallen human nature to both withhold the love of God from others and to even prevent others from coming to God. Anger, pride, envy, jealousy and the like can cause us to object to the conversion of others and to God welcoming them to Himself. When that temptation sets in, we must hear Jesus say to us, “Let the children come to me” and “do not prevent them.”
Reflect, today, upon these gentle and inviting words of Jesus. As you do, try to call to mind anyone who you might try to prevent from coming to our Lord. Do you desire the holiness of all people? Is there anyone in your life whom you find it difficult to encourage to come to Jesus to be embraced and blessed? Take on the heart of Jesus and see it as your duty to embrace others as He embraced these children. The more you become an instrument of the love of Christ, the more you will daily rejoice in God’s blessings as they are bestowed on others.
My tender Lord, You welcome all people to share in Your grace. You welcome every child and every child of God to share in Your loving embrace. Please extend that welcome to me and help me to accept this gift of Your infinite love. And help me to become a better instrument of Your love toward others, never interfering or preventing them from turning to You. Jesus, I trust in You.