“Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.””
– Matthew 19:14
Monkey’s faith and joy are incredible. Almost daily she can be found belting out “ALLELULAAAA” at the top of her lungs somewhere in the house, usually when she finds a prayer book or sees a cross. As a Sister recently put it, Monkey very actively participates in Mass as she learns more and more Mass parts. (“Lord, hear our prayer” is her new favorite)
I keep coming back to that verse from the gospel of Matthew when I think about Monkey’s faith – and how much her faith teaches me. She holds nothing back. Sometimes during Mass I wish she’d be just a *hair* quieter, but I also love how enthusiastic she is, even if her responses aren’t perfectly timed. Over the years I think my responses at Mass have become near perfunctory but her responses are full of fervor. She’s always eager to get to the parts of Mass she knows. When the lector raises their hand for the responsorial psalm verse, so does Monkey. When it is time for the Our Father, Monkey insists on holding hands. In fact, even when we pray the Our Father at home, she insists on holding hands.
Her faith, innocent and pure, is infectious. Her joy is contagious. In fact, I wish my faith was more like hers and it is because of that desire that I can understand what Jesus is talking about in that verse from Matthew. Monkey isn’t phased by everyone else’s run of the mill responses during Mass. She is eager to take part, to let her voice be heard. She doesn’t care if her response is a little early or a little late, she’s just happy to be part of the conversation with God, happy to be invited to this divine meal. She knows when it is time to “go see Jesus” even if she can’t receive Him yet, and dare I say, it is her favorite part of Mass.
Recently she found a catalogue that had a picture of The Passion of the Christ DVD cover. She took one look at it, turned to me and said, “oh no, Mama, boo-boo on Jesus. Big boo-boo. Kiss Jesus, Mama.” So, I kissed the picture. Then Monkey gave Jesus a kiss. She pulled back from her kiss and saw that the boo-boo on Jesus was still there and was saddened that her kiss didn’t make Him better.
Not yet two years old and she challenges my faith. Not by questioning or demanding answers to deep questions, but by simply believing. She doesn’t waver. She loves the Father. She loves Jesus. She prays and gives thanks for her pretend food when she’s playing with her kitchen. She sings hymns to her baby sister when she’s crying. She loves with her whole heart, holding nothing back and eagerly striving to learn more – more about Mass, more about praying, more bible stories (her favorite to read at bed time), more about Jesus. With her childlike faith she teaches me to go outside of myself, to pray with greater fervor as if God is the only thing that really matters, because really, nothing else is as important as He is.