such as these
I love kids. Dearly. Which is why my heart was just bursting that second week of our mission trip, spending hours each day with dozens of them, singing silly songs and bonding at recess and escorting little girls on never-ending trips to the bathroom and water fountain. But what’s better is that we loved and praised and learned from the Lord side by side.
After years of being a babysitter, camp counselor, and swim teacher, it had been quite a while since I’d spent quality time with kids. It was like a skill I had to relearn, but it came back pretty quickly. (The key is not being afraid to make a fool of yourself. The rest is easy.) And there was something refreshing about those new friendships I formed, those dear playmates I came to know, the little ones who quickly made their way into my heart.
It struck me particularly one day at Mass. We had daily Mass in a classroom—not your usual place of worship, but made sacred by the presence of Jesus. The first day, we taught the kids a few songs to sing throughout the week at Mass, and by the end, they did so flawlessly. And it was one day during the closing song that it just hit me: I love these kids. As I listened to their clear, pure, unashamed voices lifted up in praise of God, my heart just surged. I could only imagine the delight of the Father as He, too, watched and heard and loved them.
And I continued to notice the way I responded to them throughout the week. As they slipped their hands into mine as we walked down the hall, as they watched with rapt attention during our daily skits, as they responded to my questions about the Sorrowful Mysteries of the rosary with perfectly simple but impossibly profound answers. I was tickled to see their hands shoot up to volunteer to read in class, and I always noticed, with unseen amusement, their disappointment at missing such a prime opportunity. My heart softened anew as they streamed in each morning and deflated a little as they left, however worn out they made me.
They caused in me sheer joy, utter delight. A growing of my heart. And these were not mere passing feelings, mere highs to get me through each tiring day. This joy and delight were not inconsequential in the least, for God revealed to me His fatherly joy and delight through them. The way I looked upon each little child is the way He looks upon me, upon all of us, but with infinitely greater love. What a gift.
“Jesus,” Luke tells us, “called the children to himself and said, 'Let the children come to me and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these'" (18:16). The kingdom of God belongs to them. They possess it, expect it, know how to live for it: with radical trust, complete dependency, unadulterated joy. Let’s let ourselves be loved by the Father so. And let’s become more like these little, delightful, loveable children, awaiting the fulfillment of our deepest desires. Let’s go to Him.