Last Sunday, a little girl, probably in pre-K or kinder, tugged at my dalmatic a few minutes before Mass started and asked me: "Why did you change the color of that? (pointing to my green deacon vestment). In the simplest way I could, I explained why we change to the colors green, red, white and purple of the priest's and deacon's vestments and what each color means.
After Mass, she was there again, and she looked at me while holding her mom's skirt, and I gave her a blessing. I said to the parents, "You have a great child!" I added: "You are doing a good job!"
I remembered a verse from the Book of Proverbs saying: "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." (Proverbs 22:6) Bringing children to Sunday Mass is starting them correctly early in life.
In my parish church, I never heard a priest complaining about infants and toddlers making baby noise in church at Mass. Some parishioners bothered by it do, though. But not our pastor then when almost at the end of a Mass a baby started crying loud and he said: "Don't worry, Baby. It won't be long."
In the other Sunday's Gospel reading, Jesus rebuked His disciples for preventing the little children to come to Him and said: "Let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." (Matthew 19:14)
I wondered what the Lord meant. I could only guess from my observation that children are innocent and simple, not complicated. They can play with each other and when they fight over a toy, it does not take them more than a few minutes to kiss and make up, and they continue playing with each other again as if nothing had happened. They do not hold grudges like some adults often do.
I know. I had little children, and now little grandchildren. Jesus said children are the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
Being "childlike". Being "childish". There is a chasm of difference between the two.
"Amen, I say to you, unless you change and become like little children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 18:3)
I'm sure we all want to enter it!#