That One of These Little Ones Should Perish

January 20, 2021

The Lord often spoke of the importance of protecting “little ones,” meaning children: “If anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple” (Matthew 10:42); “If anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to stumble” (Matthew 18:6); “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven” (Matthew 18:10); “It is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.” (Matthew 18:14)
The message is obvious: children cannot protect themselves and so it is incumbent on those of us who can do so to stand up for them, and to act for their good. I write this on Martin Luther King, Jr. day, which seems appropriate. He was standing up for an underclass and asking for their protection. Others have similarly asked for help and protection for the elderly who have gotten past the point of being able to stand up for themselves, and for children.
At a deeper level, the Lord is asking us to look for and protect innocence in and around us. We give it truth (cold water) to help it grow. We work hard to make sure our innocence and others do not stumble even when those around us may be cruel. We use innocence to maintain our connection to heaven and so see the Lord’s face.
This is especially important in times of conflict, and in this light Dr. King’s words ring true for us today: “Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” It was the lack of violence and hate given in response to hateful actions that led to civil rights change. And it is our willingness to limit hate in ourselves that will allow our innocent little ones to create change.
How can we, today, nurture the little ones and protect them? Can we notice when we want to give back hate for hate, and so allow our little ones to perish? Can we then make a different choice? Can we choose to assert that innocence in the most powerful force in the world because it brings the Lord and His power present with us, and with the world?