But Jesus said,
Allow little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.
Read Chapter 19
Epiphanius the Latin
Why did the disciples keep the children back? Not because of the children’s wickedness but because it was not the right time. They did not want the Lord to be tired by the great crowd. To them he said, “Let the children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” For children are ignorant of wickedness. They do not know how to return evil for evil or how to do someone an injury. They do not know how to be lustful or to fornicate or to rob. What they hear, they believe. They love their parents with complete affection. Therefore, beloved, the Lord instructs us that what they are by the gift of nature, we should become by the fear of God, a holy way of life and love of the heavenly kingdom; for unless we are alien to all sin just like children, we cannot come to the Savior.
Jesus said . Suffer the little children He here blames the conduct of the apostles, and shows that his assertions in praise of virginity, were not meant as derogatory from the holiness of the marriage state, by giving his blessing to these little ones, the fruits of lawful wedlock; and declares that the kingdom of heaven is the portion of such as resemble these little ones, by the innocence of their lives and simplicity of their hearts. He, moreover, shows that confidence in our own strength, in our own free-will, and in our merits, is an invincible obstacle to salvation. St. Mark (x. 16) says, that embracing them, and laying hands upon them, he blessed them. Hence probably arose the ancient custom of presenting children to bishops and priests, to receive their blessing, beside that of confirmation immediately after baptism.
Nicephorus tells us that the celebrated St. Ignatius, afterwards bishop of Antioch, was one of these children who, on this occasion, received Christ's blessing.
Therefore He said, of such is the kingdom of Heaven, that by choice we should practise these things, which young children have by nature. For since the Pharisees from nothing else so much as out of craft and pride did what they did, therefore on every hand He charges the disciples to be single hearted, both darkly hinting at those men, and instructing these. For nothing so much lifts up unto haughtiness, as power and precedence. Forasmuch then as the disciples were to enjoy great honors throughout the whole world, He preoccupies their mind, not suffering them to feel anything after the manner of men, neither to demand honors from the multitude, nor to have men clear the way before them.
For though these seem to be little things, yet are they a cause of great evils. The Pharisees at least being thus trained were carried on into the very summit of evil, seeking after the salutations, the first seats, the middle places, for from these they were cast upon the shoal of their mad desire o...
. Mothers were bringing their children to be blessed by the touch of His hands. But they were crowding in towards Him in an unruly manner, which is why the disciples forbade them. The disciples also thought that bringing children to Him diminished His dignity as Teacher and Master. Christ therefore shows that He especially accepts the guilelessness of a little child, saying, "Let the little children come unto Me, for of such is the kingdom of heaven." He does not say, "of these," but "of such," that is, the kingdom of heaven belongs to those who have simplicity, guilelessness and innocence. And if one is teaching and some draw near asking childish questions, let the teacher accept them and not forbid them.