A common lament in today’s society is that children are growing up too fast. This opinion is shared by both the Catholic and secular community. Children are faced with several hardships the generations before them never encountered. Children are forced to behave as adults before their physical bodies have matured into adulthood. There are numerous arguments positing why our youth is growing up so quickly, but the problem still remains. Our children are losing their innocence, and even worse, they are losing hope.
When a child has the ability to play and explore his or her world without any preconceived notions of its challenges, that child is free to rest in the Lord. The Gospel today states: “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:1-5. The innocence of a child allows him or her to see the kingdom of heaven more clearly because he or she has not lived in this earthly world long enough to have been effected by its sinfulness.
The time of true innocence is becoming shorter for the children of this world. It is in the grip of the enemy, and he is claiming it; the more our society gives into the fear that the enemy instigates, the more children are lost. The Gospel concludes with Jesus referring to the good shepherd who leaves the 99 sheep to find the one that goes astray. “It is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost.” Matthew 18:14.
In these times of hardship, it is crucial to remember we are still the Lord’s flock, and Jesus is still the Good Shepherd. Even though it appears that more children grow up too fast, as they lose hope and go astray, Jesus will never stop seeking them and encouraging them to come back to the flock. There is always hope in the Lord.