Crying in the Temple

“And the chief priests and scribes, seeing the wonderful things he did, and the children crying in the temple and saying: ‘Hosanna to the Son of David’, were moved with indignation”What is the significance of this account recorded in Matthew’s gospel? Did the cries of the children arise from the hope of fulfillment they sensed in the person of Jesus? And, was it their innocence and absolute dependence on others that enabled them to recognize and embrace the promise in his words? What caused the indignation of those in authority? What blinded these elders to the truth so evident to the children? Has it something to do with our Lord’s proclamation that when referring to children he said: “The kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these?”

Perhaps it will be the children of the world who open our eyes to the advent of the Kingdom. The psalmist says, “Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings you have fashioned praise.” Maybe it is the youngsters who will teach us what it means to glorify God.

Clearly someone whose ministry suggests this is so is Monsignor George Grima, a priest from the Diocese of Gozo in the country of Malta ( In 1987 Msgr. Grima founded an organization called ‘Missionary Movement Jesus In Thy Neighbor.’ The grandeur of the organization’s name is matched by the extraordinary success it has had in carrying out its mission since its inception.

The Missionary Movement, which is fully approved by the episcopal authority in each diocese in which it operates, addresses the fundamental needs of abandoned children and orphans. Its charismatic founder began his apostolate in Brazil. Since then his commitment and dedication have won for him the personal admiration and solidarity of Mother Teresa, Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict.

The Missionary Movement now has 103 homes in Brazil, 47 in Ethiopia, and 18 in Kenya. Included among these are residences for children who are HIV-infected, children who can hear or speak, disabled children, and children with leprosy. These homes are supported by a network of donors in several countries who have met Monsignor Grima, this Maltese priest who seems to understand why heaven “belongs to such as these.”

It should not surprise us if the Movement continues to expand its outreach. Certainly the abject need of children is real and overwhelming, just as is the need many of us ourselves have for Monsignor’s evangelizing witness and example.

Inscribed in the website of the Missionary Movement is this penetrating caveat: “In this world, the poor require the rich in order to survive, but in heaven, it is the rich who require the poor.” As we struggle to advance the Kingdom, how fortunate we are that God has given us children to teach us this truth.