You can learn a lot by teaching young children. First, you have to know the teaching material well enough to present it and explain it in a comprehendible manner. Second, children have innocence and insight that adults have long forgotten.
In the Gospel of Matthew we read that Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." (Matt 19:14)
In my sixth grade religion class the other day, the lesson was on the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. Tough subject, I know. But I am a Theology major so I thought, “No prob. I got this. I’ve read, studied, written papers, and listened to countless lectures on this topic. I will have an answer for every question.”
We begun to read from the textbook and I offered supplementary examples and analogies. I asked the kids to think about how they participate in the mass during the consecration. Often times, kids get bored with the lengthy prayers and tired of kneeling. Even as adults it is hard to keep from being too distracted. We know that it’s Jesus; we’ve heard it a million times. But we also have so much to do when we get home.
The kids, however, listened respectfully as I spoke of Jesus being really and truly up there on the altar.
“He is just as real as the priest, just as real as me, just as real as you. We can’t see him with our eyes but He is there. Just because we can’t see something, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.” I asked them if they believed that there was a million dollars in the world. Then, I asked them if they had ever seen a million dollars with their own eyes. No one had seen that much money in one place, yet they still believed it existed.
Their head nods made me think they got the point. So, I asked them another question, “a real zinger”, I thought, “this will make their brains explode”.
I asked them to think about how they would react if they could really see the bread turn into Jesus during the consecration with their own eyes.
One boy’s eyes bugged out of his head and he exclaimed, “I would run up there and give Him a hug!”
My breath caught in my throat. I was speechless.
Kids know what it’s all about. They get it. It’s as simple as that.
Jesus said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt 18:3)
Let us not only be dependent on God, like kids are dependent on their parents. But let us also be like the children who want so badly to be closer to Jesus that they run right out of their seat and throw themselves into His arms.
During this advent season, let us pray that we may become like little children again.