“Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me.” Mk 9:37
While it is clear that Jesus treated children with dignity and respect and his contemporaries often did not, the Gospel is not so much about children's dignity but about the importance of every person, women and slaves especially, in the eyes of God. Because many societies exclude people because of gender, class, ethnicity or disease, it was important for Jesus to demonstrate to his followers and his enemies that no one was less in the sight of God.
The power and challenge of Jesus' teaching remains difficult. Early in life we learn that some people don't work as hard as others, are lazy, or are welfare cheats, and this just about the people in our country. The people of other nations, especially those with whom we have been at war, are "gooks," towel heads and savages without regard for human life. As children we simply absorb this language without thinking, but as adult Christians we have to make a conscious effort to let go of our dismissive labels which can protect us from acknowledging our fears about people of other races, classes or cultures.
Today, examine your attitudes towards anyone who is "different" from you.
Have you had to face prejudice in your own life because of your gender, race or culture?