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A Practical Commentary On Holy Scripture by Frederick Justus Knecht D.D.

1. He blesses them and bids them come to him

[Mat. 19:13–15. Mark 10:13–16. Luke 18:15–17]

ON one occasion some pious mothers brought their children to Jesus, that He might impose hands upon them to bless them. But His disciples, thinking that He would not trouble Himself with infants, began to rebuke the mothers, and to send them away. However this conduct of His disciples was not pleasing to our Divine Lord, and He said to them: “Suffer little children to come to me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Then, embracing the children, He placed His Hand on their heads and blessed them.

2. He commends a childlike disposition and warns us against scandalizing little ones

[Mat. 18:1–10. Mark 9:32–36. Luke 9:46–48]

He said to those who stood around: “Amen, I say unto you, unless you become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. He that shall receive one such little child in My name, receiveth Me. But he that shall scandalize one of these little ones that believe in Me, it were better for him that a mill-stone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be drowned in the depth of the sea. See that you despise not one of these little ones; for I say to you that their angels in heaven always see the face of My Father who is in heaven.”

The love of Jesus for children. How touching is the tender affection shown by our Blessed Lord for little children, the young ones of His flock. What an encouragement, too, for those who seek to guard them from the dangers of the world, and who train their minds in the ways of God! He pressed these little ones to His Heart, and, laying His sacred Hands on them, blessed them. Now, what was His object in blessing them? The mothers begged His blessing for their children, in the hope that it might preserve them from sickness, or early death. But our Lord’s object was far higher. He imparted His divine blessing to these little ones, in order that they might remain humble, innocent and pious, and become worthy members of His kingdom. It was because they are simple, humble, believing and innocent that our Lord loved children so much.

Those for whom the kingdom of heaven is intended. Our Lord did not say it was intended literally for children, but for such as they—not merely for children in age, but for those who are childlike in heart, simple, believing, and humble.

“Suffer little children to come unto Me.” This command was given for all times. Parents, and those who represent them, ought to bring their children to Jesus; they ought to take care that they are, first of all, admitted into the Church by holy Baptism; that they learn to know and love Him by means of a Christian education; and that, as soon as they are capable of receiving it, they are united to Him by Holy Communion, and strengthened in virtue by the imposition of hands and anointing of Confirmation.

Christian teachers. Our Lord’s behaviour to children imposes on those who teach them the imperative duty of always loving the children committed to their charge in an especial manner, as the favourites of our Lord; of trying to be a real blessing to these little ones by word and example; and of never being turned from this duty, either by the weariness of the burden, or the ingratitude with which parents may repay their services. To lead children to Jesus is the highest ideal of Christian education.

Our Lord’s Omniscience. He knew why His disciples were disputing, and what vain thoughts they were fostering in their hearts.

Humility is a beautiful and necessary virtue. He who wishes to be a follower of Jesus must renounce pride and be humble of heart The more humble a man is, the more worthy is he in the sight of God. Mary, Joseph, Peter, and all those to whom such high offices were given, were especially distinguished for their deep humility.

Giving scandal is a terrible sin. He who induces or forces others to sin, acts the part of a very devil, and draws damnation on himself.

The proximate occasions of sin. Sin is the greatest of all evils. It is a far greater evil than the most miserable death. Therefore a Christian, if he wishes to guard his soul against mortal sin, must carefully avoid the proximate occasions of sin; for no sacrifice on our part can be too great, if it serves to save our souls.

Guardian Angels. In the Old Testament we came across repeated examples which confirm the Catholic doctrine about guardian angels. In the chapter we have just read we learn from our Lord’s own lips that children have guardian angels, who are their advocates before God. Although our guardian angels are invisible to our eyes, they themselves are ever gazing on the Face of God. “Whithersoever the angels be sent, and wheresoever they are, they never cease to live in Him who is to be found everywhere, even in God, the Vision of whom makes their heaven and their joy” (S. Thomas Aquinas).

The Value of a Soul. “A human soul is so precious that, as each one enters into being, an angel is given to it to be its guardian” (S. Jerome).

Hell is an everlasting fire.

APPLICATION. What a happiness for those little children to go to Jesus Himself, and be blessed by Him? But how about you? Cannot you also taste of that happiness? Cannot you also go to Jesus Himself? Yes! In the church dwells that same Jesus, present with His Divinity and Manhood in the Blessed Sacrament, and there you can go to Him, worship Him, and speak to Him; and by the hand of His priest receive His blessing, both at Mass and at Benediction. Give your hearts to this Divine Lover of children! Visit Him often in the church; promise Him that you will be holy and humble children, and ask for His help to keep your promise!

Do you ever dispute with your brothers and sisters as to who is the greatest among you? Do you want to be preferred to your comrades? As often as this sort of temptation to pride arises in your heart, say: “I will not be proud! Humble Jesus, I will follow Thee!”

Avoid bad companions!








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