The Gospel reading from the Mass for Saturday of the 19th Week of Ordinary Time is Matthew 19:13-15.

Having praised the state of marriage and celibacy in the priesthood, Christ blesses the fruit of physical union (children) and demonstrates the importance of spiritual fatherhood. Fathers and mothers are drawn to bring their children to Christ to receive His blessing and prayers, for Christ exudes a powerful holiness; it was also a Jewish practice for children to be blessed by a rabbi.

The disciples rebuke the parents, attempting to stop them from bringing the children to Christ. The disciples may have had honorable intentions: the Master was tired; the crowds were too large; others were in more desperate need. It is more likely that the disciples were thick-hearted: they had heard Christ praise children (Matt 11:25; 18:3); they may have thought that children were below the Master’s dignity; they had just questioned whether disciples should marry (Matt 19:10). The disciples were pridefully acting like gatekeepers instead of gate-openers.

Christ commands that the little children are to be brought to Him for, in children, He fondly recalls the spiritual qualities of those in Heaven: joy, poverty, simplicity, humility, dependency, vulnerability, etc.. In addition to the great gift of blessing children by the very hand of God, Christ is demonstrating the practice of spiritual fatherhood that His priests, the celibate for the Kingdom (Matt 19:12), are to embrace in their care for children. Like Christ blesses marriages, Christ blesses the fruit of marriages, laying His holy hands on the children, supernaturally blessing them; He confirms even the youngest are welcome into the Kingdom and lays the foundation for Baptism of infants.

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of God, Christ personally knows the Father and that children need to know Him too. Son of Man, Christ, despite His immense power, has a personality that draws parents to present their infants for His blessing. Divine King, Christ issues commands (to bring the children) and demonstrates right behavior to His disciples.  Divine Priest, Christ establishes the foundation for infant baptism and confirms the priestly action of the laying on of hands in blessings.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) While many malformed men abandon or neglect their children, Christ makes the unequivocal call for spiritual fatherhood. Marvel at how Christ, being blessed as the Son of God the Father and Son of Joseph, demonstrates how men are to be spiritual fathers to all children.

2) In contrast to Christ’s unconditional love of children, many support the murder of abortion (CCC 2270-2275, 2322). Reflect upon the Gift of a Child (CCC 2373-2379) and pray for Christ to help you love and defend all children as He does.

3) As Christ demonstrates, while some men are biological fathers, every Catholic man is called to be a spiritual father. Review the Duties of Catholic Fathers (CCC 5, 2221-2231, 2688) and pray that Christ strengthen you to be a spiritual father to your own and other children.

Spiritual Practices – Include in Today’s Prayers

Sacred Mystery of Rosary – The Joyful Mysteries

Daily Devotion – The Blessed Virgin Mary

Virtue of the Day – Hope

Corporal Work of Mercy – To bury the dead

Spiritual Work of Mercy – To pray for the living and the dead