Lusaka based Catholic Priest Rev. Fr. Arthur Ntembula has called for the safeguarding of children’s dignity in families and communities as Christians world over mark Epiphany Sunday.
Epiphany Sunday is a Christian’s feast in which Jesus reveals himself to people from all walks of life among them gentiles when he was a baby.
Fr. Ntembula said children in their infancy may not appear important but people must realize that in them lie kings or leaders of the world and the church.
He said as children grow society as a collective responsibility to help them bring out their potential.
Fr. Ntembula said there is a need to nurture children and make the world a safe place where they will live and be happy.
He said children need many things, among them love, education, health care, attention and protection from any form of harm.
“Jesus reveals himself as King and Saviour to the gentiles. Wise men from the east, gentile kings, identify him as King as they come to pay him homage. They say, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the east, and have come to worship him.” For them, he is not just a baby, but a King. They offer him expensive gifts. This gesture affirms his kingship,” Fr. Ntembula reflected.
“On the other hand, there is Herod who feels intimidated by this baby King and is immediately driven by malice and wishes to destroy him. Jesus is saved by the angel who appears to the Magi in their dream to tell them about Herod’s ill intentions. And so they depart to their country by another way.”
“Today the Church invites us to reflect on the dignity of the “little kings” in our communities and families, the little children. In their infancy, they may not look as significant, but we are invited to realise that in them lie “kings” who are to be persons of great value in our society and in the Church tomorrow. Therefore, as they grow up, it is our collective responsibility to help them bring out the “king” that God has put in them right from their conception. The Magi see in Jesus a King worthy of their expensive gifts and deserving worship. What about us; what do we see in the little ones?”
Fr. Ntembula added:”Today we are further invited to be part of God’s creative work of nurturing the little ones and making this world a safe and beautiful place where they will not only feel safe but also be truly happy. What exactly do they need? They need protection, health care, education, unconditional love, our undivided attention, and other important aspects of human growth so that tomorrow, when you and I are frail and tired, they will be the ones to take care of us, this society and the Church.”
Fr. Ntembula warned against all forms of child abuse.
“Herod wants to destroy baby Jesus. In this case, Herod represents all those people who destroy the future of the children by inflicting on them pain and depriving them of what they truly deserve for their growth. Many times the children have been stripped of their dignity by those who are supposed to protect them. Sometimes, the children in our society have nothing to eat, they have no place to call their home, they are not going to school, they do not have proper clothes, they are physically and sexually abused by the ‘Herolds’ in our families and communities,” he said.
“Many children cannot appreciate the beauty of life because we have not shown it to them. Today we are all called upon to safeguard the future of the “little kings” because their happiness depends on us. Our duty, therefore, is to be a point of security and a fountain of joy in their life. Let us help them to appreciate the fact that there is indeed something beautiful about life. In fact, in the small children there is baby Jesus. When we protect them, and make the earth a better place for them, it is Jesus that we serve,” Fr. Ntembula concluded.