By REV. LUNA DINGAYAN
“Whoever welcomes in my name one such child as this, welcomes me” — Matthew 18:5
September is declared as Children’s Month. This is probably to emphasize the importance of children in our nation’s life and future. But actually, every month should always be a children’s month. Caring for children is something that we do every day. Any nation that does not care for the young does not have a future at all.
In a traditional Filipino family, children are indeed central. Hence, it is quite shocking to hear news from time to time of children being molested by their own relatives or even by their own parents or grandparents; of children who are malnourished, deprived of basic education, victims of drug addiction or armed conflicts. Such realities are perhaps indicators of a growing malady in our national life. Certainly, something must be done before it’s too late. And it seems that we cannot simply rely on our political leaders to do this task. This is everyone’s responsibility.
A mythical story
This reminds me about a popular mythical story on the creation of our country. According to the story, when God was about to create the Philippines, one of the angels interceded earnestly. He pleaded humbly that God in His infinite mercies would create our country as beautiful as it can be – a nation with beautiful people, rich in natural resources. No less than a paradise on earth.
God the Creator lovingly agreed, and so He created the Philippines just like that. But then, some of the angels protested, “That’s unfair!” they said. And God said to them, “Just wait! Wait until you see what kind of politicians there are in the Philippines.”
And so, the paradise that was Philippines was plunged into poverty and destitution due to an unending conflict and insatiable greed for wealth, power, and fame of the powers-that-be. The rich and beautiful natural resources were ravaged, narco-politicians abounded, and graft and corruption infected the government bureaucracy. The paradise was lost; it must be regained.
Hence, we could not rely so much on the traditional politicians. We have to call on each one to help prevent the further deterioration of our country’s moral fiber, especially among the young.
Caring for the young
In the Gospel according to Matthew, Jesus Christ our Lord said, “Whoever welcomes in my name one such child as this, welcomes me. If anyone should cause one of these little ones to lose his faith in me, it would be better for that person to have a large millstone tied around his neck and be drowned in the deep sea”(Matt. 18:5-6).
Jesus Christ our Lord said that whoever welcomes a child in his name, welcomes him. To welcome a child is to give him the care and the love he badly needs to be a good and responsible human being. To help a child live a good and responsible life is to help Jesus Christ our Lord Himself.
Teaching unruly, disobedient, restless children can be a very tiresome job, indeed. But then, there is no one in the world who helps Jesus Christ our Lord along this line more than the teacher of the little child. Thus, Jesus said, “Whoever welcomes a child in my name welcomes me” (vs. 5). I would like to believe that one of the key roles of political leaders today is to care for the little ones and to serve as good and responsible role models for the younger generation.
I would like to commend President Duterte for emphasizing very strongly that one of the noble purposes of his war on drugs is to care for the future of younger generations. However, killing people here and there related to drugs betrays the novelty of his purpose. As communication experts have been saying, “How you teach is what you teach.”
The great keynote of Jesus’ words is the terrible weight of responsibility they leave upon everyone of us. He said, “If anyone should cause one of these little ones to lose his faith in me, it would be better for him to have a large millstone tied around his neck and be drowned in the deep sea.”(vs. 6).
Most unforgivable sin
The Jewish people believed that the most unforgivable of all sins is to teach another to sin, because a person’s sins can still be forgiven due to their limited consequences. But if we teach another to sin, he in his turn may also teach another to sin, and a train of sins is set in motion with no foreseeable end. There is nothing in this world more terrible than to destroy someone’s innocence. And, if a person has any conscience at all, there is nothing which will haunt him the rest of his life.
The great sages of old had recognized the importance of little children in building up a strong nation. Thus, they gave us an old proverb that says, “Train up a child in the way he should go and though he is old, he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6).
And so, if we want to regain the paradise that was lost and have a strong, peaceful, and progressive nation in the future, then we must begin building that nation with the children of today. # nordis.net