Sunday Vigil

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Memorial of St. Stephen (†1038), king of Hungary. He was converted to the Gospel and promoted the evangelization of his country

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Whoever lives and believes in me
will never die.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Matthew 19, 13-15

Then people brought little children to him, for him to lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples scolded them,

but Jesus said, 'Let the little children alone, and do not stop them from coming to me; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of Heaven belongs.'

Then he laid his hands on them and went on his way.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

If you believe, you will see the glory of God,
thus says the Lord.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

It is a beautiful and tender image to see Jesus surrounded by children. Even though the disciples had seen long lines of sick people brought to Jesus, now that they see a swarm of children crowd around him, they do not understand and try to keep them away. They apparently think all of the children, who are rambunctiously milling around that unique Teacher, must be a disturbance. But Jesus stops them and even rebukes them when he sees them scold the children: “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.” And when the children draw near, he “lays his hands on them.” It is as if to say that he protects them, just as he protects and helps all the weak and defenceless. The millions of children who are abandoned come to mind, those who die of hunger or those who die in war, or the ones who are exploited and abused in societies of the rich world. These children are often alone and abandoned, with no one to take care of them and protect them. Unfortunately, they are sometimes seriously harmed in body and mind by the very people who are supposed to love and protect them. For Jesus they are all little children to love, to protect, and to bring up with great care. The disciples reproach them: not only do they not allow the children to approach Jesus, they want them to stop trying, as if it is inappropriate for those who are little or who do not count to ask for something. Jesus rebukes them. He does not want the disciples to send anyone away. He does not want them to be like the men and women of this world: strong towards the weak and cowardly towards the powerful. The children are given an example that we should observe closely, because “it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.” Adults need to learn from children how to have the simple and open spirit that is needed to welcome the kingdom of heaven, the Gospel message. It is contrary to the pride and the self-sufficiency that we adults often glory in. It is an invitation for us all to welcome the Gospel with openness and to kneel down and pay more attention to the many children of today so that they might not grow up in a school of violence and love only for oneself, but at a school of the Gospel of love. The way to be children is to be humble, simple, to ask for help, to depend on our father, and to trust our mother. How easily even the disciples can become arrogant and end up harming the little ones. It takes very little to humiliate them. Let us start with those who need protection and love, because that is what we are too.