We know that children are treated very differently, at different times, in different societies. The spectrum runs from being adored and pampered, to being considered useless and disposable. So, what does Jesus mean when he says: “The kingdom of God belongs to such as these…Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the Kingdom of God like a child will not enter it?” I think that the key word is: accept. When I was preparing to become a Jesuit priest, we studied “grace,” for a whole year. The professor kept stressing that everything was a gift from God.

Finally, I put up my hand and asked: “Father Donnelly, then what is the meaning of our Jesuit motto: ‘For the greater glory of God?’ Aren’t we giving something to God?” He answered: “Robert, you give glory to God, when you receive what God wants to give, when God wants to give it, and to the extent that God wants to give it.” One thing all children have in common is: at some point in their lives they are receivers. So are we, all our life long.

—Fr. Bob Braunreuther, S.J., a New England Jesuit, assists in pastoral ministry at Loyola University Chicago, and is minister of the Arrupe House Jesuit Community.