To the Merest Child
is Revealed the Father’s Love
Jesus is the fullness of wisdom; the Way, the Truth and the Life. He is the Son of the Father whom we meet as gentle and humble of heart. He refreshes us and gives us rest when we are burdened and weary. Like the Son of the Father, so our sons and daughters awaken in us values and truth.
We owe all little ones awesome respect for what they offer us. Sadly precious treasures are overlooked. The tragic number of infants who die in domestic violence, children caught in the crossfire of gang fights, the violation of the safety of schools, trafficking – the world of Charles Dickens or the coal mines of Pennsylvania of a century ago, bad though they were for children seem in second place to our present moment. And the above are overshadowed at least by volume when we see mothers in war torn countries or refuge camps with their malnourished children. Like Hagar who placed her son, Ishmael, under a tree and sat the distance of a bow shot away so she could not see him die of thirst, we sit and watch, we pray for a change, that God hears the cry of suffering and comes to our aid.
We hear the expression, ‘the tyranny of two’, implying that a third element is needed to get beyond impasses in life or to open new delights in love. (Some disagree saying the tricycle preceded the bicycle!). But with marriage as an example the love of two increases with a third, a baby. There is a gift given to parents, a gift they share together. The child is an object of their love, and also increases their love as mother and father which they share with one another. The burden and weary part of life, the yoke spoken of in the gospel are not unfamiliar to any couple who love one another, nor will their sons and daughters always lessen the weight of the burden they carry. We ask the grace to change what we can, accept what we cannot, and the wisdom to know the difference.
A friend of mine who enjoys a dinner out, a party and a little dancing has been laid up with a back problem. After two weeks of rehab he was able to join the celebration of a wedding and, while still hobbling along with a cane, attend the reception. A sad thing happen. As the dancing began he found himself alone at his table when everyone else took to the dance floor. As he sat there it seems all the limitations he had been suffering for several weeks, the inability to do his ministry, the pain itself, all of this came crashing down upon him. He wasn’t very good at hiding his feelings either nor was he aware that he was under the scrutiny of a five year old. The little boy had a new small truck that he was playing with, his latest acquisition and new favorite toy. The child went to his mother and ask if he cold give the truck to Father, because ‘he looked so sad’.
We may have the joy of being around children or only enjoy them in passing or from afar. We may be moved with sorrow and just indignation where we see a child suffering or denied the right to grow up as a happy individual. May we care for children and support parents and all who work and care for children. We need what they offer us. We see in them a way of knowing Jesus, God’s love. He shows us the Father who looks upon us and loves us, seeing in us what he sees and loves in his Son.
Fr. William Murphy, CP is the pastor of Immaculate Conception parish in Jamaica, New York.