Continuing the Spiritual Journey

By: E. Jane Rutter

Saturdays are my long-established laundry and housecleaning days. One of the last chores I take on is washing the glass doors and windows. However, a wave of sentimentality caught me last Saturday and I could not bear wiping off our grandkids’ handprints from one of them. Their perfect smudge marks brought a smile to my face, and I chose to enjoy the proof of their joy and innocence a little while longer.

Instinctively, I heard Jesus’ rebuke to his disciples who did not want the children annoying their sought-after leader. “Let the children come to me; do not prevent them, for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these” (Mark 10:14). Free from guile, the little ones responded to Jesus’ aura of pure love and ran to him without hesitation. Children will always run toward love.

Jesus’ comments to his disciples – and to us – are not off-handed ones; rather, instructions to model the children:

Let go of your egos. The world entices us to compete against each other. The prevalent messages to be smarter, look better, run faster, and get richer are meant to enhance our sense of influence and power. Yet all are false values that fade as we age and die. On the contrary, Jesus advised his disciples that “Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 18:4). Jesus came to us as a servant with no home, belongings, or status to offer the richest gift of all: eternal life of joy with the Father.

Depend on me. Just as children are wholly dependent on their parents, so Jesus invites us to belong to him above all others. It is Jesus who tells the disciples not to hate children for they have angels protecting them, “…for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father” (Matt 18:10). Rest assured that where we fall short protecting and loving one another, the angels keep us before the Father.

Invite others to share my love and salvation. In its purity, a child’s love mirrors Jesus’. Both simply ask that we open our arms to receive them. “And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me” (Matt 18:5), Whether silly, strained or clingy, every hug a child gives is one of love. Herein lies our task as mature adults. Join St. Paul, enlivened by Jesus, by putting away our foolish things and putting on the greatest gift of all: love (1 Cor 13:13).

Last Thursday we learned that our youngest sister, Patty, was in the intensive care unit. She passed away on Sunday at the age of 66. She leaves behind our two beautiful nieces, Anna and Siobhan, to whom I dedicate Handprints. The trials and tears, joy and laughter of this world are but moments we will share together, strengthening one another in His love and awaiting the glory that is heaven.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll wash the handprints off the glass….

And so I pray: Dear Lord, help us be open to the love Jesus gives, to the angels who watch over us. When our time here is at a close, reunite us in the Father’s perfect love with those who have gone before us.