Christ Amidst the Babies

UGH.

This week has been a frustrating couple of weeks in terms of babies, for sure. I keep trying to figure out the words to say and then deleting all of my words because it doesn’t seem enough to express my horror of everything that is going on.

The cheers of the New York State legislature as they approved a bill which legalizes infanticide, of all things, in certain cases.

The fact that Virginia would be so daring to introduce a law to do pretty much the same thing. (Yes, it was defeated, thank God, but when will the issue resurface again, and will we be strong enough to resist it?)

And, while I completely acknowledge that this is a very minor thing in the grand scheme of things and not a grave sin, like the aforementioned atrocities which are grave matters in which the cries of the innocent reach out to heaven. And yet! This week, a prominent priest blogs about how he dislikes it when babies cry during his homilies. And he uses that to justify separating the babies as young as six weeks old from their mothers and putting them in a parish-sponsored daycare so that their mothers can attend mass. Which is actually not so bad if this is a voluntary thing that the parents decide to do, and I get that he was just trying to promote his ministry program and everything, but the way he worded it just rubbed me the wrong way.

It’s the straw that broke the camel’s back.

OKAY,” I want to scream. “I GET IT. Children are a burden! Children are inconvenient! They are loud and noisy! The littlest children need constant care and attention! They can challenge and frustrate us in ways so that we are at our wits’ ends sometimes! I GET IT.”

Do I sound frustrated? Because I am. Honestly, having children is one of the most fulfilling things that has ever happened to me. Ever. It has changed my life completely and all the frustrations that I have encountered have been minor annoyances compared with the love, life, and grace that they have shown me.

And yet, it’s hard to not be frustrated. After all, the whole idea that children are an inconvenience is the message that our society constantly screams at us. Yes, children are cute and all that, but didja know that you can save half a million dollars if you don’t have kids??? Oh, and if you have a child, good luck finding that income, because apparently certain cities are doing something called vasectomy zoning, which means they are doing everything they can to force children out by making children as inconvenient as possible.

Having children is inconvenient.

Too bad we’re not in the good old days, where children were considered valuable, amirite?

Except children were always seen as inconvenient.

Always.

I’ve blogged about it before in this comic and the blog that accompanies it at my other website. (Yes, I am a cartoonist… and yes, there is a reason why I don’t feature my own art in this blog!) And, basically, the blog is about how people in the good old days used to sacrifice their children or basically kill their children if they were burdensome.

But even in the gospel, children are treated with disdain when they are actually physically present. Remember that gospel in which Jesus’s disciples are trying to shoo away children from getting too close to Jesus, because darn them kids?

NABRE

Mark 10

13 And people were bringing children to him that he might touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. 14When Jesus saw this he became indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not prevent them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.” 16Then he embraced them and blessed them, placing his hands on them.

And this scene is described in the Gospel of Luke and Matthew as well!

So, parents (probably mothers!) are bringing their children to Jesus! Which means, in all likelihood, these children are super little.

So they are probably messy. And loud. And helpless. And crying. And super inconvenient to the point where the disciples are actively trying to shoo away the parents and their children so that they don’t have to deal with them.

So, what is Jesus’s response?

He was indignant that His disciples were shooing away the children. So He took the children in His arms and blessed them.

Here is some art depicting the scene:

Christ Blessing the Children, by Lucas Cranach the Elder, c. 1535-40. Stadelsches Kunstinstitut, Franfurt, German. Via IllustratedPrayer.com
Christ Blessing the Children, by Lucas Cranach the Elder, c. 1535-40. Stadelsches Kunstinstitut, Franfurt, German.

To the left, you can see an annoyed St. Peter, holding up his hands while he watches Jesus closely. Another disciple of Jesus is talking with St. Peter, while other disciples are behind St. Peter.

But they are mere background to the rest of the scene which is busy and full of children! In the middle of scene is Jesus! He holds up a baby with one arm to kiss him while another lady hands Him another baby to kiss with one hand while bringing forth her daughter with the other so that He can bless all of her children! To the left, a woman grabs His arm to offer up a child to bless while behind Jesus, a baby grabs Jesus and tries to lift himself up into Jesus’s arms… just the way that babies tend to launch themselves into the arms of their parents. To the right, another mom is actually breastfeeding her infant, which just heightens the sense that these are truly helpless babies that are completely dependent!

It’s a busy, messy scene!

Yet, it is a scene which Jesus embraces, just as He embraces the children.

Now! Why does He do that?

Because He is God.

Because He is Love.

Because He loves even the most vulnerable of us.

Because we are all valuable in the sight of God.

We are all worthy.

We all have human dignity in the sight of God.

And, even if the world dismisses us as persons…

Even if the world doesn’t think we are valuable….

Even if the world would rather us chase after money and pipe dreams and rat races…

God love us no matter what.

Even if we don’t seem to contribute anything at all.

Even if we don’t seem to have a purpose.

Even if we are needy and can’t seem to do anything right.

God love us all.

No matter what.

To us, we are all God’s children. We are all needy. We are all loud and noisy and demanding. We all need to be saved from all the bad things. And, while God does not save us from everything, He saved us from the biggest thing — from Hell.

And then He gave us a home in Heaven.

May we strive to remain with God in our journey of life!

And may we strive to serve, support, and love others, just like God love us — especially those who have no one to love them!

Karina Tabone

Karina Tabone is a wife, mother of three, author, blogger, and lover of Christian artwork. She's the author of the Illustrated Rosary series, which pairs every prayer of the Rosary with beautiful religious artwork. She likes also milkshakes, sunshine, and mystery novels. Follow her on Twitter at @illustr_prayer

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