Kids – A Reflection from our Executive Director

Michael Melara, Executive Director

Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” — Matthew 19:13-14

This verse provides insight into Jesus, the man. He liked kids. I like to think that Jesus had a sense of humor. Not a prat-fall kind of humor, but a self-effacing humor that put everyone at ease. The kind of guy you’d invite over for sauce on Sunday and watch the Giants game. And he’d make a point of spending time with your kids. I’m thinking card tricks would be his specialty, all the time laughing.

“Let the children come to me….” Jesus saw the wonderment and openness of children. We know this because children “come to us” every day at Catholic Charities. They come to our neighborhood centers to attend our preschool programs. Have you ever spent time working in a preschool? It would bring most triathletes to their knees. But the joy, innocence, and light these young children bring to us each day is a gift. Later in the day, we see elementary school aged children joining us at our centers. They’re happy to have a safe place to come to, friends and staff they know, help with homework, and a decent snack. Finally, the evenings are reserved for teenagers at our sites. They try so hard to act like they don’t care, but they do. And we know it because we care so very much about them.

In all, we see over 450 children crossing our threshold each day at Catholic Charities. While the kingdom of heaven belongs to them, it doesn’t rescue them from the difficulties or hellish existence they often experience here, today, right now. Some of them are abused, bullied, hungry, struggling in school, and living in deplorable conditions. I like to think that Jesus is reaching out to them through our efforts at Catholic Charities. Smiling at them. Loving them.

The wounds of childhood almost certainly follow us into adulthood. The hurts multiply and grow exponentially over a lifetime. These traumas can become disabling and there is no simple path to full restoration. This is the space for divine intervention assisted through our prayers for all the children who are hurting in the world.

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