Sunday, 7 October 2012

“Suffer the children to come unto me, and forbid them not”.

The above words taken from the book of Mark-10;13-16, express the essence of today’s sermon as delivered by Revd.Sunil S. Ghazan. The reflection, “we do not choose our children; they are given to us just as other members of our family. Children are generally considered to be innocent and don’t have an image to project, unless we push one on them. they express joy or disappointment readily. Our perception of children has however begun to  undergo a change down the ages. We, as mature adults often expect our children to behave like adults, often scolding them and telling them to behave! The famous line by a famous poet, “child is the father of man” suggests exactly where we have gone wrong! We cannot enforce our ideas on to our children because they bring “intimations” from the Almighty Lord. It is the message that the child brings to us that we should learn to appreciate. The fact that children are still being born proves  that God still has faith in Mankind and is sending children with innocence  to counter the  cruelty on this Earth. Moreover, it is only when we become as children that we can expect to be admitted to the Kingdom of Heaven.
Parenting has to face greater challenges than  before because of the fact that  children have  more exposure to technology and  dissemination of information making them perhaps more informed than their parents. Many a parent will recall being tutored  about the features of a new smart phone by their children! Gone are the days when children obeyed the instructions of their parents unquestioningly. This is not because they are rude or bad in nature, it is just that they want to know why they should not do a particular thing! Parents often don’t have the patience or time to explain the why and the wherefores! The shift from a joint family system to a nuclear family system, the need for both parents to work to supplement the family income, the increasing demands from children for new clothes, a rising cost of living, the need to maintain a good standard of living have all affected the relations that exist between parents and their children. Parents are short tempered and impatient with their children and ready to scold them even for small things!
The book of Mark 10:13-16 describes how some parents brought their children to Jesus so that he could touch them and the disciples  scolded them, and we are told that when Jesus, “saw it, he was much displeased”.  Jesus went on to tell the disciples, “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.” The supposition is that the Kingdom of God will be open only to one who is, “as a little child”. It  is not great learning, or wisdom, or abilities that entitle you to a membership in the Kingdom of God, rather it is the innocence of a child, and an unquestioning faith that that matter. The lack of prejudice, pre-conceptions, and conceit are the characteristics of childhood. In spite of this parents try to impose their ideas, their failed aspirations, and they set up unrealistic goals before their children. This subjects their relationship to great stress! What, then is the alternative  before parents?
Should parents, then adopt a Laissez-Faire attitude towards their children? The answer is a strict, no, no! It is all about letting the child bloom to the best of his or her abilities by learning to appreciate the individuality of the child. Parenting as such should include spending time with children, guiding them in a tactful manner, reading to them from the scriptures, setting example before them, convincing them to do things in a particular manner, explaining to them why you don’t want them not to do something, and being child-like before them-a tough job, no doubt! The book of Proverbs makes it clear that children have to listen to the instructions of their father, and to follow the commandments of the Scriptures. Proverbs 4:1-5 reads, “ Hear, ye children, the instructions of a father, and attend to know understanding.For I give you good doctrine, forsake not my law. For I was my father’s son, tender and only beloved in the sight of my mother. He taught me also, and said unto me, Let thine heart retain my words: keep my commandments, and live. Get wisdom, get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth.”
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