Jesus rebukes the disciples for attempting to block the bringing of children to Him. Every Catholic man can grow in happiness by pursuing the Virtue of Charity so he can gratefully receive the gift of children from God and by building the Virtue of Fortitude so he can always valiantly strive to fulfill his duties as a Catholic father. 

Liturgy

19th Week in Ordinary time – Saturday – Mt 19:13-15

Commentary

Having praised the state of marriage and celibacy in the priesthood, Jesus blesses the fruit of the physical union of husbands and wives (children), and demonstrates the importance of spiritual fatherhood. Fathers and mothers are drawn to bring their children to Jesus to receive His blessing and prayers; it was a Jewish practice for children to be blessed by a rabbi and for fathers to lay their hands on their children and bless them (Gen 27:30; 48:14-16). 

The disciples rebuke the parents, attempting to stop them from bringing the children to Jesus. The disciples may have had honorable intentions: the Master was tired; the crowds were too large; others were in more desperate need. More likely, the disciples were being pridefully thick-hearted, thinking children were below the Master’s dignity. They had forgotten that Christ had recently taught them that to receive a child is to receive Him (Mk 9:36-37); they were acting as prideful gatekeepers rather than humble gate-openers.

The disciples’ actions anger Jesus and He rebukes them, commanding that the little children are to be brought to Him. Recalling His life with the Father in Heaven, Jesus sees in children the spiritual qualities of those in Heaven: joy, poverty, simplicity, humility, obedience, dependency, vulnerability. In addition to the children being blessed by the very hand of God, Jesus demonstrates the spiritual fatherhood to which He calls all priests and men; men are to protect, provide for, and bring children to Jesus. Like Jesus blesses marriages, He blesses the fruit of marriages, laying His holy hands on the children, supernaturally blessing them; He confirms even the youngest are welcome into the Kingdom and lays the foundation for Baptism of infants.  

Be awed by Jesus Christ

Marvel at how Jesus demonstrates two powerful aspects of His Personality (see also Mk 10:13-16): Divine King and Protector, Jesus becomes justly Indignant (angry, severely displeased), bluntly rebuking the disciples for attempting to prevent the children from being brought to Him; Encouraging, Jesus welcomes the children to come to Him, embracing, blessing and putting His hands on them. Imagine, with holy fear, the Divine Wrath of Jesus for those who abuse or abort children. 

Gratefully receive the gift of children from God

Realize: In contrast to Jesus’ unconditional love of children, there are many who avoid children through contraception or murder children by Abortion (CCC 2270-2275, 2322); every Catholic man must reject the mortal sins of the use of contraception and abortion, and be open to the beautiful gift of children in fruitful union with his wife (fecundity). 

Believe: Reflect upon the Fecundity of Marriage (CCC 2366-2372, 2399) and the Gift of a Child (CCC 2373-2379).

Pray: Jesus, Divine Charity, help me build the Virtue of Charity so I am obedient to Your call to gratefully receive children, I am guided, with my wife, to reject contraception and responsibly regulate births when appropriate, and I with my wife remain joyfully open to the gift of children from You.   

Strive to fulfill your duties as a Catholic father

Realize: As Jesus demonstrates, while some men are biological fathers, every Catholic man is called to be a spiritual father who brings many souls to become adopted children of God and have the potential for eternal life in Heaven. 

Believe: Reflect upon the Duties of Catholic Fathers (CCC 5, 2221-2231, 2688).

Pray: Almighty Father, help me build the Virtue of Fortitude so I courageously persevere in fulfilling my duties as a Catholic father and become a heroic spiritual father who brings my own children and many others to You. St. Joseph, pray for me.