“Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me.” (Mk 9:37)
Two days ago, I met with Fr Pierre Tritz who celebrated his 95th birthday. For the past 35 years, this French missionary and his committed staff have worked tirelessly to educate disadvantaged children in the Philippines. I had worked with his non-government organization called ERDA Foundation from 1995-1996 through their child scavengers and street children programs. It was a time of much grace. Meeting him and his devoted staff, many of whom have served together for 15-30 years, again inspires me. Fr Tritz recounted with clarity the moment when he felt God’s call to serve Filipino children. He met a 5 year-old girl who was jailed for taking some bread to help feed her family. He helped secure her release and for 35 years did everything he can to educate poor children.
The experience with Fr Tritz and his staff breaks open today’s Gospel for me. Jesus took a child, who had no social rights or power in first century Palestine, and urged his disciples to welcome him, indeed welcome God, as they welcomed the child. Fr Tritz and the ERDA folks consistently place children at the center of their lives of service. In the first two weeks of the Tertainship, my Jesuit brothers and I have been invited to reflect over our childhood and how we have been loved by God. It is as if we are called to create space for God by embracing our own childhood. It is as if I am invited to place poor children I met today selling sampaguita flowers and knickknacks in the streets at the center of my prayer and listen to what the Lord may reveal. These are the two ways I sense the Spirit is moving me. How might God’s Spirit move you today?
Oh, visit the ERDA website or ask me if you’d like to contribute to this inspiring work.