"Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." (Matthew 19:14)
Jesus obviously loved and welcomed children in his presence.
And when I see children in church — especially our youngest parishioners and visitors — I usually feel the same way as our Lord so beautifully expressed. I smile when they smile and wave when they do.
I don’t agree with having separate areas for children or forcing families to sit behind glass. Toddlers fidget. Babies cry.
But sometimes, children get carried away and parents should step in — such as when they are laying down in an aisle or when they are chewing a mass of bubble gum that they then proceed to play with and take out of their mouths. These are safety and hygienic issues, simply put.
And lest we not forget the challenge of teenagers — who can’t detach from their cell phones or choose to wear less-than-appropriate clothing. Covering one’s midriff and not wearing skin-tight pants is not too much to ask for as one enters the house of God.
But as I write all of this — which I had joked about with coworkers before last Friday’s tragedy in Newtown, Conn. — I realize how petty it all sounds.
How joyfully we would welcome those children in our midst right now! I cried upon hearing the news, and I ache for these families along with the rest of the country.
I hope they find some solace and peace as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus, and I pray that they know that he has welcomed them home with open arms.
The kingdom of heaven truly belongs to them.
Have a blessed Christmas and hug tight those unruly children!