I think I’m slowly learning what Jesus meant when He said in Matthew 18 1-5:
“At that time the disciples approached Jesus and said, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.”
This weekend I had the privilege to Altar serve at a Mass for our Confirmation students to conclude their retreat. The Mass started as usual with myself and two other Altar servers processing in before the Confirmation students and our priest. When we reached the Altar, we discovered that we had another server joining us who happened to get to the church a little late but refused to let that stop him from serving. He must have changed faster than Clark Kent becoming Superman in order to serve at Mass. Upon seeing him up there before the rest of us I had to smile and laugh a little to myself. You see, this kid is around 11 years old and he never ceases to amaze me to see how fervently and passionately he serves at Mass. As the rest of us join him I happened to look at his little hands, folded and ready for prayer…when I see a rosary wrapped around his hand.
*For those that don’t know me, I have been wearing a rosary around my hand for the past 3 years and it all started as a challenge from one of my teens early on in my ministry. That teen challenged everyone to always have their rosary with them and even wear it, if necessary, but the one requirement was not just to wear it like a piece of jewelry – but to pray it. So being a very challenge driven person, I said, “bring it!” This also happened to coincide with a promise I made when joining the Knights of Columbus – to always have a rosary on my person (hint hint, nudge nudge, brothers) and this helped reinforce my challenge. So I told myself I wouldn’t wear my rosary if I didn’t pray it.
Back to the story…I immediately starting thinking to myself, “I wonder why he decided to do this and where he had learned it.” We go through Mass and even while focused on everything going on, I just couldn’t get seeing that rosary around his hand out of my mind. So at the end of Mass I see him with his family so I walk over and tell him I love his rosary (while being attacked and wrestled with by his younger brothers; they won, for the record). So I go back to our parish hall to finish cleaning up from the Confirmation retreat and was invited out to dinner by the father of the boy (who is a Catechist who helped put on the retreat). So while at dinner, I asked his parents what caused their son to start wearing a rosary around his hand? They both laughed and told me to ask the boy, who wouldn’t answer but just looked at me. The father then answered for him and said, “he learned it from you”. I was in disbelief. I have known this family for probably less than a year and here their son was copying something I was doing. I went home that night and really started to think about this. Of everything that happened that day, why was it that this one moment stood out to me the most? Then the above verse came to mind. I have always said that in my ministry I have learned more from those I minister to than they probably get from me. Here is this 11 year old boy who started doing something that I have been doing, and will probably never realize the impact in made on my life. You see, I had been struggling for a while and had even stopped wearing my rosary for a little bit (though I never stopped praying, just took away my constant reminder). I’m not saying it was because of me that this kid started doing that, because that takes a movement of the heart from God, but the fact that he attributed the thought of doing that because of my example. My heart sank that night as I reflected because it made me realize that I have been, and will continue to be, an example for those that I may not ever know. The more I reflected, the more my heart became reconvicted in my prayers and in my wearing of the rosary around my hand. Not for vanity, but as a constant reminder of God’s presence and Mary’s intercession. This 11 year old boy reformed my failing faith, reconvicted my tired heart, and the only thought I had was, “thank you, God”. From the countless spiritual directions, deep conversations with friends and all the ministry I do, it was this simple moment from a young pre-teen that changed my heart. I am constantly amazed how God uses the ones we see as the weakest or littlest to change our lives and to show His glory and power.
To the family, if you see this, thank you for the way you are raising your children. Thank you for inviting me out that night. And to the boy in this witness: You are and continue to be an inspiration to me, especially because of your age. You and your family are being prayed for by name each and every day on this rosary that you reconvicted me to wear.
It is amazing what God can do with the faith and openness of a child. Anyone who thinks they are mighty will be humbled and those that are humble will be made mighty.
Myself and the rest of the Mobile Mission team are praying for all of you
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