Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Cathechism from a four year old

Two Sundays ago we were attending Mass in a church that is new to us. It is a small simple building that actually looks like a church, both inside and out. Lining the walls are the Stations of the Cross. Not the modern kind where it is difficult to distinguish what exactly is being depicted. Instead they are detailed and there is little doubt as to the suffering that is happening. Nothing gory, but nothing hidden either.

Four year old Emma was distracted by the one closest to our pew. Jesus has fallen and the soldiers are beating him, rather than helping our poor suffering Lord back unto his feet. Emma asked the inevitable question.

"What are those men doing to Jesus, mummy?"

"They are pushing him, sweat heart."

Her deep brown eyes meet mine, filled with sorrow.

"But why Momma, why are they hurting him?"

How to answer a four year old such a question, especially when needing to whisper during the Mass...

I wondered how to explain such a complex idea - Jesus was preaching the Gospel, the good news and the leaders of his religion felt threatened by him and so they arranged to have him executed.

As quietly as possible I whispered to her that Jesus was teaching the truth and the leaders of his religion did not want to hear this truth so they asked these men to kill Jesus.

"But why didn't they want to hear the truth Momma? Why?"

"Because it meant having to change and people do not always want to change because it is hard to change. Changing how you live can make you afraid. "

Emma sat pondering this and so did I. I didn't feel I had answered her well. I felt I had dodged the real truth of the matter - Jesus was dying for us and he was taking on our punishment. We are doing this each time we tell a lie, treat someone rudely, choose to skip Mass. We are the ones hurting Jesus in this picture, not just the leaders who wanted him condemned or the men actually carrying out the orders to crucify Jesus.

Emma stared into my eyes once more and I explained to her gently, this idea of how when we hurt someone else, we are actually hurting Jesus so it is important to remember that Jesus is living in each person and to be nice to every one we meet.

She was silent and I turned my attention once more to the Mass, hoping my words had been the right ones.

A few seconds later she interrupted my thoughts again.

"Mummy - who do I kiss?"

"Kiss? Why do you want to kiss someone?"

"I want to kiss JESUS Mummy. So who do I kiss?"

"Oh," I replied. "Well, you can give one of our statues of Jesus at home a kiss and Jesus will get it in heaven. Or you can look up into Heaven and blow Him a kiss and He will get it. "

"If I kiss a statue at home, I will kiss his feet 'cause Jesus does not always like kisses on his cheek. "

"No, Emma, you are right, he does not always like kisses on his cheek."

She stood up on the kneeler and leaned forward and blew a kiss in the direction of the crucifix and then blew a kiss to His Mother to the side of the alter. She smiled at me and stepped down off the kneeler. "I gave them both kisses, mummy!"

I smiled back and then once more directed my attention to the alter, not a little touched by her love for Jesus and his mother. Suddenly though, I was distracted again. Emma's head had disappeared and I suddenly felt a little peck on my ankle. Emma's brunet head reappeared and she smiled shyly at me.

"I just kissed Jesus' feet Mummy. Do you think he is happy now?"

What is it Jesus said; We must be like little children??? He was so right. Read more!