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27th June: The Least of These -- My Brethren.

Suffer little children, and forbid them not. Matthew 19:14 (AV)

Children can be pests at times, demanding and unreasonable: egocentric -- 'me first'; negativist -- 'no! no!'; questioning -- 'why? why?'; non-compliant -- 'I won't!' and at the end of a tiring day they can be so much the more exasperating. But after all they are tired too. They choose unreasonable times to be ill -- holidays or the middle of the night -- but they can't help it. When they go to sleep, head of pillows, sheets pulled down, they look for all the world like little angels. Perhaps they are. Sometimes when they are ill they can be far more appealing and certainly much less demanding. They are dependent upon us for good, warmth, nursing and medical care, yet often unable or unwilling to thank us. They can't command attention as can adults. They can't report us to the health authority. They are at the mercy almost entirely of our commitment, care and concern. We are measured in eternity by our responsiveness and our responses, as well as by our total commitment to their need. 'Forbid them not', said the Saviour at a time when the needs of other people seemed far more important than those of mere children. Our Lord could see their need and gave them his full attention. He would still have done so had it been in the middle of the night. He went on to say, 'for of such is the kingdom of heaven'.

Whenever we care for a child, we are caring for one of God's creatures known and loved by him. We have an awful responsibility and yet a tremendous opportunity -- and 'inasmuch as you do it unto one of these, you do it unto me'. The devotion of your kind and person, your care and concern for the child's body, mind and soul, your love for the loveless, your smile, your gentleness and patience are all in his name. Our whole approach to a child (or adult), in outpatients or on the ward, is altered if we realise that he is precious in God's sight, worthy of our prayers and our blessings. It takes two, possibly three seconds to look at a child -- or indeed anyone -- and silently, at the start of a physical examination, to seek God's blessing on him. You will never know the effect upon the child. Perhaps if they ever knew about it, your worldly friends would think you superstitious or worse. One thing is sure, you are a different person when you approach a child whom you have just silently blessed and whom you see as one for whom Christ died.

Lord, teach us to regard all others as better than
ourselves. Give us your grace as we minister to
your creatures. Give us the strength to love the
unlovely, to help the rebel and to give our all when
nobody else can know if -- but you. make our lives be
unto your glory.

Further reading: Mk 10:13-16. Mt 25:31-46.


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