By Sharon Wilson

Eden, Janine and Jim

Image credit: Flickr, 2011.

The school year has started and at the church where I work, suddenly there is excitement and energy in the air.  I used to be a teacher and I love the controlled chaos that children bring.  I also marvel at the wisdom they have.  No wonder Christ asked us to be like little children.

He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:2-4)

This week I had the opportunity to be taught by the children from the parish school.

Here are two stories to illustrate my point.

As I was walking into the bathroom near the cafeteria one day, a kindergartner was lollygagging by the door.  As I walked past her she asked, “Are you nice?  My mom told me not to talk to strangers.”  I replied that “Yes, I am nice, but I am a stranger and she should probably not talk to me.”  A minute later as I was in the stall, she said, “Are you done yet?” I said, “Almost.” She proceeded to let me know that she wasn’t tall enough to reach the soap.  As I washed my hands, I filled my hand with soap, reached down, and let her scoop the soap out of my hand. This made me think of a homily I had recently heard.  It was on hospitality.  Hospitality, the priest said, is meeting people where they are at without judgement.  This little gesture of mine, reaching down with the soap in my hand and offering it to someone who couldn’t reach it is hospitality and is how we share the faith.  Through no effort of my own, I had been graced with height which allowed me to use that gift to share something with another.  The next step in hospitality was to not be a stranger anymore.  This kindergartner and I walked into the lunchroom so her teacher could introduce us.  Sharing our faith is just that simple.  Meet people where they are at and make them not a stranger anymore.

The next day, the school was buzzing as the parish prepared for it’s festival.  This meant the normal pickup of students was disrupted.  As a group of first graders were waiting in the Narthex of the church I noticed a little girl staring at the Sacred Heart of Jesus Statue near the parish office.  She looked at me and touched the statue’s hand and asked, “Is it broken?”  Worried that someone had broken a finger off the statue, I rushed over.  She was pointing at the wounds on Jesus’ hands.  Grappling with how to explain the wounds of Christ to a first grader, I reminded her of the images of Jesus on the cross.  “These are the scars from the nails that held him on the cross.  He still has them as a reminder that even when bad things happen to us we know we can make it through because Jesus has made it through much worse.”  She then touched the Sacred Heart on His chest.  I told her the flames on the heart are because Jesus loves you so much that His heart if on fire for her. As  I stepped away I saw her look up into the statue’s eyes and start to talk.  Her lips were moving and she was praying  Just that simple.  She was asking Jesus for something and then she wrapped her arms around the statue and gave it a hug.

I think sometimes we complicate our lives so.  Praying is as simple as this little first grader showed me.  I am the one who makes it difficult.

Contemplate what Jesus has done for us, tell Him your needs and give Him your gratitude (a great big hug!).

And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me. (Matthew 18:5)

Yes, out of the mouths of babes.