Protecting Our ‘Little Ones’


Then Jesus said to the disciples, “It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. (Luke 17:1-2)

The Lord Jesus is clear that those who sin against children deserve to be punished. Sex sins against children are an obvious example, and of course it is a great shame and sin that there have been sexual sins and crimes committed against children even in churches. However, sexual misconduct is not the only kind of sin committed against children.


Recently the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released data showing that firearms are now the leading cause of death for American children. More children are now killed annually by gunfire than are killed by motor vehicles which had for a while been the leading cause of childhood mortality. This too becomes a sin against our “little ones” especially since some of these deaths are preventable. According to the CDC 4,368 kids died from gunshot wounds in the US in 2020: 2,811 were considered homicides, 1,293 were suicides. At least some Christian churches in America have taken notice and begun to offer prayers to bring an end to deaths among children caused by firearms.


In an opinion piece in the Washington Post, A prayer for the children gunned down in our streets, Colbert King writes:

Our rector at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Foggy Bottom, the Rev. Wesley Williams, leads us weekly in a prayer specially composed for “a country that swells with an ocean of weapons.” Citing violence in our streets, he prays, “Strengthen the lungs of the living to cry out for change.” And: “May our own deep roar shake us from complacency, until we may see, and we may say: That no more, no more, no more shall perish.” We respond in unison, “Amen.”


There is in the Orthodox Church special prayers “For The Increase Of Love And The Uprooting Of Hatred And All Animosity” which has special petitions which might be used in Orthodox services asking God to help us end the gun violence against children in our society. One of the petitions from this service prays:

O Lord Jesus Christ, our God, Who gave a new commandment to Your disciples, that they should love one another: Accept this offering for the remission of all the sins of Your right-believing servants.  And by Your Holy Spirit renew in us love for Your goodness and for neighbor, which has waxed cold in us.  Establish this with strength in our hearts, that, fulfilling Your commandments, we seek not on earth our own ends, but that which is to Your glory, the building up of our neighbor, and for salvation.  


We are to be concerned about our neighbors, including the children in our towns and cities. Offering up prayers to end the gun violence at a minimum would help us all be aware of this tragic violence in our society against our children which might inspire some to work to change this trend. We may be too complacent because we think these gun deaths are happening to others, but not to our children. We are to care about the little ones in our country. As Jesus said: “See that you do not despise one of these little ones; for I tell you that in heaven their angels always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 18:10). Their angels can pray for us or they can accuse us to our Heavenly Father for our lack of compassion. Pro-life people especially should be working to reduce the number of gun deaths among children in our country. Pro-life shouldn’t just mean “anti-abortion” but should truly be pro-life which means being concerned for the children who come into the world.


Kindle our hearts with flames of love for You, O Christ God, that being inflamed by this, in heart, mind and soul, we may love You with all our strength, and our neighbor as ourselves, and that keeping Your commandments, we may glorify You the Giver of all good. (KONTAKION from The Prayer Service for The Increase Of Love And The Uprooting Of Hatred And All Animosity)