What did Jesus actually say about child abuse?

 
(This article is from the book Jesus and Kids by Michael Hewitt-Gleeson  •  ISBN 978-0-9873194-0-4)

 

FOREWARD

The purpose of this little book is plain and simple: the protection of small children from abuse by adults.

The idea of this book is to present the recorded views of Jesus on the value of children and on the occasion of child abuse by adults. In his characteristic and provocative style, Jesus discusses both the pre-eminence of small children over adults, and, the scandalous evil of child abuse by adults.

Although this issue is of global significance and features in daily headline news it’s rare to see Jesus’ words quoted in the discussion. Yet, one can search all of literature and will hardly find more eloquent, more authoritative and more poignant words than these words of Jesus.

Spread the word!

Palm Sunday,  Rome, 2010.

 

WHAT DID JESUS TEACH ABOUT CHILDREN?

 

Jesus had a very definite view about the value and importance of all children, in general. He had a lot to say about how he personally felt about children.  He also had a lot to say about how His Father in Heaven felt about children.

Evidence of this came up one day when he was teaching his disciples. They were curious about rank and precedence in Heaven. Naturally, they wanted to know who Jesus thought would secure the most favourable positions in Heaven. They may even have been thinking of themselves.

They were asking him about who would be the VIPs? Who’d get to be in the inner sanctum? Who would be given the best positions? Who would sit closest to the Father Himself?

Interestingly, Jesus did not avoid the subject but embraced it and in no uncertain terms. He addressed his disciples in one of his most poignant lessons about rank, precedence and preference in the kingdom of Heaven.

This teaching of Jesus is recounted first by Matthew and then corroborated by Mark and Luke. At that time the disciples engaged Jesus and asked him: Who do you think is the greater in the kingdom of Heaven? So, Jesus called over a little kid, and sat the kid in the middle of them all and then taught the following important lesson to his disciples …

jesusandchild

WHAT DID JESUS ACTUALLY SAY?

 

Traditionally, Jesus’ own words are written in red …

Listen! I’m telling you disciples the truth now. Unless you change and become like little kids, YOU won’t ever be getting into the kingdom of Heaven.

Therefore, whoever makes himself as little as this little kid, he’s the one who is greatest in the kingdom of Heaven.


WHAT DID JESUS SAY ABOUT THE ABUSE OF CHILDREN? AND, IN PARTICULAR, ABOUT THE ABUSE OF CHILDREN WHO FOLLOW HIM?

 

Well, here we see Jesus at his most passionate and he’s using the strongest possible language in this teaching …

But if anyone is the downfall of one of these little kids who believes in me, it were better for him that he drowned in the deep of the sea with a great millstone tied round his neck.

 

THERE HAS ALWAYS BEEN THE PROBLEM OF CHILD ABUSE IN THE WORLD. WHAT WAS JESUS ATTITUDE TO THIS PROBLEM?

 

Not afraid to face the issue with realism and wisdom, Jesus talks about the problem of child abuse in the world …

It’s a great pity for the world that there should be such causes of kids falling! Causes of falling indeed there will be, but pity help anyone who is that cause!

 

WHAT PREVENTATIVE MEASURES WAS JESUS PREPARED TO PRESCRIBE?

 

Here Jesus talks directly to any adult who may be involved in the abuse of a small child or children …

If your hand or your foot should be your downfall, cut it off and throw it away: it is better for you to enter into life crippled or lame, than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire.

 

WHAT ABOUT THOSE IN POSITIONS OF RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE PROTECTION OF CHILDREN? WHAT ABOUT THOSE WHO PROTECT THEIR REPUTATION AND ASSETS AHEAD OF THE CHILDREN?  WHAT ABOUT THOSE WHO JUST TURNED A BLIND EYE TO THE PROBLEM?

 

And if your eye should be your downfall, tear it out and throw it away: it is better for you to enter into life with one eye, than to have two eyes and be thrown into the hell of fire.

WHAT ABOUT CONSEQUENCES FROM HEAVEN? ARE THOSE WHO HAVE ABUSED CHILDREN LIKELY TO GO UNDETECTED? ARE THOSE WHO HAVE FAILED TO PROTECT CHILDREN IN THEIR CARE LIKELY TO GET AWAY WITH IT?

 

See that you never despise any of these little ones, for I tell you, their angels are continually in the presence of my Father in Heaven.

 

WHAT IS THE SOURCE OF JESUS’ WORDS?

Did Jesus really say these things? According to the Catholic version of the Bible, he did. In this book I have written Jesus’ words plainly as he would say them to us today. And, these words are sourced directly from my copy of The New Jerusalem Bible (NJB) which I bought from the Vatican bookstore on the Via della Conciliatore on Palm Sunday, 2010.

The New Jerusalem Bible is a scholarly translation direct from the Hebrew, Greek or Aramaic texts and is one of the most widely used Roman Catholic translations of the Bible. NJB was first published in 1985. It carries the imprimatur of Cardinal George Basil Hume.

Jesus’ words are reported first and in detail by Matthew, Chapter 18, Verses 1 – 10. They are corroborated by Mark, Chapter 10, Verse 15 and also by Luke, Chapter 9, Verses 47 – 48.

Here, for reference, are these verses transcribed verbatim from the NJB:

Matthew 18:1-10

1 At this time the disciples came to Jesus and said, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven?’

2 So he called a little child to him whom he set among them.

3 Then he said, ‘In truth I tell you, unless you change and become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven.

4 ‘And so, the one who makes himself as little as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven.

5 ‘Anyone who welcomes one little child like this in my name welcomes me.

6 ‘But anyone who is the downfall of one of these little ones who have faith in me would be better drowned in the depths of the sea with a great millstone round his neck.

7 ‘Alas for the world that there should be such causes of falling! Causes of falling indeed there must be, but alas for anyone who provides them!

8 ‘If your hand or your foot should be your downfall, cut it off and throw it away: it is better for you to enter into life crippled or lame, than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire.

9 ‘And if your eye should be your downfall, tear it out and throw it away: it is better for you to enter into life with one eye, than to have two eyes and be thrown into the hell of fire.

10 ‘See that you never despise any of these little ones, for I tell you that their angels in heaven are continually in the presence of my Father in heaven.

 

ARTICOLO CORRIERE DELLA SERA