Sunday, February 17, 2013

A Child's Prayer vs. Pope Benedict's Blessing

On July 4, 1999, I was staying in a campground near Rome. There were a lot of foreigners around, most of them Aussies (Australian) and Kiwis (New Zealanders). I was bummed about spending the American holiday among people who, like the two Canadian women who kept making anti-American jokes, just didn’t appreciate the significance of the day. So, I opted out of going into Vatican City that Sunday morning, instead sleeping in until 1:00 pm in the tiny wooden cabin I was renting for the week.
Later, when some of my fellow campers came back from their excursion, I greatly regretted my decision to stay behind. They had been standing in the courtyard at Saint Peter’s Square, when the Pope had come to his window and given them a blessing. Wow – I had missed out on getting a special blessing from the Pope. I am not Catholic, but I thought it would be amazing to have experienced such a special event.
This morning, February 17, 2013, Pope Benedict gave his first Sunday blessing since announcing his resignation. When I read the story it brought back that old regret of fourteen years ago. Why did I skip that excursion? It’s not like me to turn down a new experience.
I did tour the Vatican the next day. It was beautiful and surreal to be in such an historic place. But, I was bothered by the money changers. Remember Jesus overturning the tables of the money changers in the temple? Well, that’s what I thought about when I experienced all the things for sale there at the Vatican.
Today’s news also brought to mind others who practice the blessing ritual – special, influential religious leaders (Benny Hinn comes to mind) whose prayers are coveted. I thought about something that happened with my daughter a year or so ago. She was very sick with the flu and was vomiting repeatedly and refusing liquids. I was worried. Her older brother didn’t get my worry and was being a kid – hyper, etc. I said to him, “Your sister is sick. This is serious.” His demeanor completely changed and he fell to his knees and started praying, begging God to heal his sister.
Now, I don’t know about all the special religious leaders and their lines to God, but personally I’d rather have the prayers of an innocent child! I never prayed aloud growing up. I never heard a woman pray aloud, either. It just wasn’t done and it took me a long time and a lot of training and exposure to others to become comfortable with it. To see my children pray for each other (and their friends, family, bullies at school, etc.) brings tears to my eyes.

But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 19:14


14 comments:

  1. Great read! You are setting such a great example for your children. Keep it up girl!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Matthew 18

    At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hmmnn - i feel i would be a little like you in the missing out on something - but for me that surreal is not real - religion is in your heart and your conscience - not the Vatican or the church and kids have it with no veil.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I love the simplicity of a child's faith.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I don't see that children are any less susceptible to sin than adults because sin is part of the human nature inherited from Adam. The difference with children is their absolute dependency upon others to meet their needs. There is no façade with little children, they are helpless and need someone to give them the ability to live.

    Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.
    Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. (Mark 10:14-15)

    The teaching here is not for adults to become childish — but childlike in utter dependence, believing that Jesus has provided what is needed for eternal life.

    For anyone to enter the Kingdom of God they must place their faith in Jesus, not in their own ability, works, church or church leader. Those who trust Jesus will pray with absolute faith and complete dependence upon the Lord to meet their every need.

    Psalm 27:7–8
    7 Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice: have mercy also upon me, and answer me. 8 When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You make the point of being dependent on God as children are dependent on adults. That is something I had not fully realized until I read your response. Thank you for your thoughtful comment (as always).

      Delete
    2. I like your story Suzanne, as it applied to your children.

      Garth, you may have a point with a child's total dependence. Wouldn't that still constitute a form of faith though? Children rely on their parents but do not have a worry about whether or not they are taken care of. Anyway you give me more to the passage to think about.

      Still think that humility is what was the primary teaching of those verses. If you notice little children are quick to humble themselves, adults are much more stubborn! (compare Matt 18:4)

      Delete
    3. Suzanne, nice story.

      If we look at Matt. 18:4 we can see that the difference between children and adults is humility. Children are quick to be humble, adults are far more arrogant and stubborn. As in your story our children are far more ready to bow down to the Lord than we often find ourselves. We want to worry and try what we may until we have no choice but to bow down.

      Delete
    4. Darren - nice to have your comments, as always. Yes, the faith of a child - to see the change in my son - so instant - and so complete in his belief that God could and would heal his sister, was a much-needed reminder of whom we need to put our trust in.

      Delete
  6. Replies
    1. Yep :( I have met a few celebs, but not one of such biblical proportions!

      Delete
  7. Your story touched me. It shows how we should never miss an opportunity in life. However, you have the secret guilt of sleeping instead of joining fellow travellers. I like the way you linked your story to the news.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I learned my lesson: when travelling especially, take in as much as you can. I won't likely have that opportunity again to see the pope in person (albeit from a distance).

      Delete
  8. "Those prayers are coveted." That really got me thinking... It's so easy as clergy to make gods of ourselves and shadow the One True Light of the world.
    May God grace us to humble ourselves.

    ReplyDelete

The catchpa has been removed to enable easier commenting. Spam and irrelevant comments will be deleted.