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  • Writer's pictureElpidio Pezzella

Let the Little Children

But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.

(Luke 18:16 NKJV)

Surrounded by large crowds, eager for miracles, attacked by Pharisees, hunted for pretexts, the Master's gaze turns to children, an insignificant part for that plethora of people. The close collaborators try to push them away, there are more important things to do than waste time with curious and noisy brats. Jesus, on the other hand, displaces them and demands that they be allowed to approach. I have the vague fear, however, that someone has misunderstood his words: when he spoke of welcoming the little ones, he did not intend to send them to the other world, as, unfortunately, continues to happen every day. The conditions of poverty that still concern part of the so-called Third World are not enough. The violence and abuse of the sex market are not enough. Many are missing the merciless data of the wars, still ongoing at every latitude.

Our eyes these days are full of what is happening in Israel and along the Gaza Strip, where if a child is nine it means that he has survived three conflicts. But the drama is here and elsewhere: Syria, Somalia, Afghanistan, Yemen, Nigeria, Congo, Mali, Iraq, South Sudan and Sudan are some of the most dangerous countries for children in conflict. Defenseless and guiltless souls who, when they are not the recipients of enemy fire, are fully armed and thrown into the fray like stray mines. The data of the organization "Save the Children" are merciless: "Three million children in the world know nothing but war. A total of 93,236 children have been killed or maimed in conflicts over the past 10 years, for an average of 25 children killed or injured every day. Air attacks, land mines, bombings have broken the lives of tens of thousands of children, destroyed families or left indelible scars in their lives ”. Let alone if we add to this the victims of persecution or those who face the icy waters of the Mediterranean in search of hope.

Let me be clear: there is no just war. There are no intelligent weapons. We continue to reiterate that in any conflict, children on both sides should be protected from violence, which is always senseless. Those with decision-making powers would have an obligation to keep children out of the line of sight, but they remain deliberately blind, blatantly ignoring international laws and standards. The dirty and damned money then feeds the arms market to the parties, even where it is clear that they are used against children. Matters that don't concern us, why don't they affect us? I wouldn't be too sure! I am thinking, in fact, of Jesus' words "do not hinder them" more than the fact that the kingdom of God is assigned to them, and that to enter it it is necessary to become like them. Adults distinguish, elaborate, reflect, investigate, are wary, because they want to control everything. They are hardly willing to lose or give up, they are thirsty for victory and are willing to do anything to win. Children, on the other hand, trust instinctively, without reasoning, it's all a game. They rely on adults, they let themselves go into the arms of those who welcome them (Psalm 131:2). However, it is we who intervene between them and the Lord, just like the careless and insensitive disciples. It is we with our wars and our thirst for power that are the scandal for the little ones of the Lord.

The Gospel of Mark provides a significant detail, namely that Jesus was indignant (Mark 10:14): he felt a surge of anger at the wrong attitude of the disciples. This is not the first time this has happened (Mark 3:5). Jesus' indignation is imbued with energy and passion to solve problems, to defend others or to fight for a just principle. Who knows if he is not indignant right now with me, with us, with those who have some responsibility and have not yet understood that welcoming a child is building the future, is transferring life and culture, means accepting a promise, which grows and develops if duly taken care of. Who knows that he is not being indignant even with those who, at all costs, want to bring sexual indoctrination in schools and enlist "militants" of free love. Different wars, but the same epilogue: innocent victims. I confess that I feel missing once again. The Gospel reminds me of the episode in which, while the disciples were fighting for primacy (Mark 9:33-37), Jesus physically took a child, placed him in their midst and added “Whoever receives one of these children in my name, receives me". We must always welcome them, in good or bad times, just as we welcome the kingdom of God, when it comes, in time and out of time. Instead, we continue to welcome more, to build more, while we throw bombs on children. Let's think about it.


Weekly Bible Reading

Plan # 22

May 24, 1 Chronicles 22-24; John 8:28-59

May 25, 1 Chronicles 25-27; John 9:1-23

May 26, 1 Chronicles 28-29; John 9:24-41

May 27, 2 Chronicles 1-3; John 10:1-23

May 28, 2 Chronicles 4-6; John 10:24-42

May 29, 2 Chronicles 7-9; John 11:1-29

May 30, 2 Chronicles 10-12; John 11:30-57

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