Standing in solidarity with children

Jan. 15—Feast of the Santo Niño. Readings: Is. 9: 1-6; Ps. 97, Response: The Lord is king; let the numerous isles be glad. Eph. 1: 3-6, 15-18; Gospel—Matthew 18, 1-5, 10Every third Sunday of January, the Holy See has given the Philippine Church a particular privilege to rejoice the Feast of the Santo Niño, the oldest and one of the widespread devotions of our church.
This 12 months, I want to invite you to replicate on our Philippine state of affairs, particularly with regard to how we look after our kids, from the attitude of the feast and the Gospel for right this moment.
Three factors from the Gospel are our place to begin for reflection. First, the query of and the response to who’s the best within the Kingdom of God. Second, Jesus as standing in shut solidarity with the youngsters. Third, the decision to make sure alternatives for kids to achieve their full human potential.
When the disciples of Jesus requested who’s the best within the Kingdom of Heaven (cf. right this moment’s Gospel, Matthew 18, 1-5, 10), it provides us an inkling that the query was comprised of the attitude of worldly greatness.
Jesus then seizes the chance to show them and shift the paradigm radically. “Really I let you know, except you alter and turn out to be like little youngsters, you’ll by no means enter the dominion of heaven. Due to this fact, whoever takes the lowly place of this youngster is the best within the Kingdom of Heaven.”
He radically reorients the that means of greatness that’s rooted within the values of the Kingdom of Heaven—humility, belief, a graced dependence on God in addition to each other.
Greatness in lowliness
This isn’t simply an unusual question-and-answer second, however in a way it’s a second when Jesus lays out one of many key parts of the roadmap of the church, i.e., the constructing of the Kingdom of Heaven in our midst starting with our personal conversion—greatness in lowliness.
How a lot have we opened ourselves to this conversion, particularly our leaders in our communities, for the reason that radical conversion is inside the particular context of the group? Are we, as a group, each leaders and the members/followers, aligned with this strategy of conversion?
“And whoever welcomes one such youngster in my identify welcomes me.” This brings us to our second level for reflection. Right here Jesus identifies himself, stands in solidarity with the youngsters.
How have we, individually and as a group, recognized with and stood in solidarity with the youngsters, the youth of our group, our society?
Nelson Mandela mentioned, “There may be no keener remark of a nation’s soul than the best way it treats its youngsters.”
Let me spotlight one situation for us to replicate on, human trafficking. In response to anti-human trafficking advocates, we’re globally one of many facilities of kid exploitation linked to intercourse movies. There may be additionally an issue of kid labor, particularly in extremely urbanized areas. That is an offshoot of poverty.
Addressing root trigger
In one of many initiatives we’ve got in Magna Anima Lecturers School and The Conscience Collective, we’re growing a Medial Literacy Program for the youth, and within the course of we realized we would have liked to incorporate the mother and father.
We found how lots of the mother and father don’t understand or know that many on-line engagements of their youngsters can result in or are literally human trafficking.
What does this say about our soul? If I could add, what are doing to deal with the foundation reason behind this drawback, i.e., poverty and the hopelessness and helplessness it brings?
The picture that comes again to me is from 2015, through the go to of Pope Francis on the College of Santo Tomas, when a younger woman asks him why youngsters are victims of the evils of society—medicine, sexual exploitation, and so on.—and she or he breaks down.
The Pope responds by standing up and hugging the younger woman.
Addressing the foundation of the issue—poverty and the hopelessness and helplessness it brings—I’m satisfied that among the best paths out of poverty and onto a viable and sustainable path in the direction of real long-term improvement is an effective training, formation and coaching system for the youth.
I cannot belabor the state of our training. Sufficient mentioned about this. Allow us to get all the way down to attainable concrete motion.
Liable to being accused of self-promoting, I would really like finish with a quick sharing on our work at Caritas Philippines’ Alay Kapwa program. Our Alay Kapwa Group Faculties cater to out-of-school youth and younger adults.
I’m all the time moved after I hear the tales of our learners. There are, based on official statistics from greater than three years in the past, over 20 million Filipinos who didn’t end primary training. A giant majority are youth and younger adults.
Our learners, now numbering near 100, categorical a lot hope by seeing this chance for them to return to high school and hopefully acquire higher employment alternatives.
“See that you don’t despise one in every of these little ones. For I let you know that their angels in heaven all the time see the face of my Father in heaven.”
This can be a reminder, a name from Jesus for us to advertise the welfare of our youth corresponding to these learners.