The three boys—some of our biggest troublemakers—walked into the front office beaming with ear to ear smiles. They were more than eager to show us what was inside the jar with holes poked into the lid. Some of the girls ran screaming as they proudly displayed the grasshopper they had caught. They had named it and were already making plans for how they would care for it. This plan included avoiding their mothers, who they knew would make them set the little guy free.
Most children have a special fondness for animals. Kids will often ask their parents for puppies and kitties, while parents exhaust every excuse to avoid giving in. But there is something about the special bond many kids on the margins of society have with the animals they encounter. The love they have for them, and the tenderness with which they care for them, is noticeable.
In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus makes a statement that is rather disorienting and deeply mystical. He says that whatever you do to “one of the least of these” you do to Him. What a profoundly humbling thing to really think about! How have you treated Jesus today? I’m not sure I would like my own answer to that question.
Somehow this notion of caring for those who are weaker, for those who are either oppressed or their plight simply ignored, is not a difficult one for children—especially children who find themselves in places like Joshua Station. In fact their treatment of vulnerable creatures—like their grasshopper friend—often puts to shame their treatment of each other! Still, there is something welling up inside of these kids that we would do well to pay attention to.
May we feel that love and consciousness welling up inside of us that leads to the care for the “least of these” among us. May we love and care for them as we would Jesus Himself, because after all, we are.
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