My mind goes back not that long ago to the images of frantic parents pulling their children up over the barriers to the Kabul airport in the hope of getting out of Afghanistan. They did so, presumably, for a better life for their children than one they envisioned awaiting them under the Taliban rule. Similarly, in the news on any given day you hear about families traveling great distances from South and Central America in the hope of getting their children into America and away from poverty and crime in their home countries.
Less dramatic and newsworthy are the constant efforts of parents to get their children into good, safe schools, so their children may have a better life than they had. I recall my parents going the extra mile for my education as early as first grade. Halfway through the school year my father was transferred. The public school in the new town wanted to send me back to kindergarten because of my age. I was a year younger than others in first grade because I had started kindergarten when I was four. Instead of having me take a step backwards, they made financial sacrifices to send me to the Catholic school for the remainder of the year. Then again, in sixth grade, with another move pending, my mother drove me and my brother across town to finish off the school year in the school system we would be attending the following year. She did this to ease my transition to junior high the next year.
In such ways, parents today are not very different from parents in Jesus’ time. As we hear in the Gospel reading this weekend, “People were bringing children to him [Jesus] that he might touch them” (Mk 10:13). Certainly, stories of Jesus healing people, driving demons from people, even raising a child from the dead, had made their way to Judea. With this reputation, why wouldn’t parents want to bring their children to Jesus? Here was someone who could heal physical ailments with a simple touch. What they didn’t know was, he was present to heal the spiritual ailments – sin – as well.
For this reason, I often use these verses of our Gospel when conferring the Sacrament of Baptism on infants and children. Parents bringing their children to Jesus, to be washed clean of original sin, to become the adopted son or daughter of God the Father, to be blessed by God the Son, and to be marked by the Holy Spirit.
I believe parents inherently want what is best for their children, be it a better life in a different country, a good education, or healing from a renowned miracle worker. One doesn’t have to be expert in human behavior to know why. Parents do this out of love. If parents are willing to go to these lengths out of love for their children, is it any surprise our heavenly Father sent His only begotten son to us?
As I ponder this, I can’t help but imagine Jesus reaching down to me from the top of a wall to pull me out of my sinful ways, to a better life.
In the peace of Christ,