"Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me." This statement from Jesus is actually very similar to the famous passage from Matthew's Gospel where he says, "Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me" (25:40). But in Matthew, this idea of serving Jesus by serving others is applied to more dramatic cases: the hungry and thirsty, the sick and imprisoned, the naked and the stranger. Isn't it interesting to note that caring for children can also be a way of experiencing Christ's presence among us? For many people, "receiving" a child is part of their daily routine. Those of us who are parents obviously welcome children into our families and continue to serve them throughout their lives. Grandparents, siblings, other relatives, foster parents, and sometimes neighbors and friends also make room in their homes and their hearts to welcome the children God has placed in their circle. Teachers, physicians, therapists, and others who work with children on a professional level are also in the "business" of receiving children. How wonderful to think that all of this normal activity can offer us the opportunity to encounter Christ! Because dealing with children can become routine, or at times even be filled with challenges and frustrations, we might need to pause to remind ourselves about the blessings that they bring. Certainly their joy and innocence is a gift in itself, but in today's Gospel we are reminded that their presence brings more than that. When we serve children in a spirit of generosity, when we "receive" them as they are--with all that entails--we are in turn receiving Jesus ... who first came to us as a child. ©Liturgical Publications Inc.