Over the years, the faith formation program I coordinate at my church has become known as a place where children with special needs are welcomed and nurtured. I remember it was about seven or eight years ago that a parent called me asking if we could help her son. She explained that the church they had belonged to felt they weren’t equipped to help kids with special needs, and basically rejected them.
I will never forget the morning I sat in my pastor’s office to ask him what I should do. Leaning back in his chair, he said, “Isn’t it ironic that the Gospel reading for this morning was, ‘Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them…'” (Mt. 19:14).
He went on to tell me that we should do whatever we can to make these children and their families feel welcomed. And so began a consistent effort on our part to invite everyone to participate in our program, including children with some pretty severe disabilities. I don’t think that Jesus would have it any other way.
At times, we’re not sure exactly what they comprehend, but we do know they feel loved and cared for. That’s enough for us.
I wasn’t intending to write about this, but I came across a little quote from Mother Teresa today, and, well, here we are. Here’s the quote,
I will remember always the last time I visited Venezuela in South America. A rich family had given the sisters land to build a children’s home, so I went to thank them. And there in the family I found their eldest child was terribly disabled.
And I asked the mother “what is the child’s name?” The mother answered, “professor of love, because this child is teaching us the whole time how to express love in action.”
There was a beautiful smile on the mother’s face. “Professor of love” they called their child, so terribly disabled, so disfigured. (from The Joy Of Loving)
Wouldn’t it be great if we could all become Professors of love?