Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Why Be Childlike

From the Hermitage

Almighty ever-living God,
whom, taught by the whole Spirit,
we dare to call our Father,
bring, we pray, to perfection in our hearts
the spirit of adoption as your sons and daughters,
that we may merit to enter into the inheritance
which you have promised.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Dear Friends,

Jesus calls us.  We know that, I am sure.  Nonetheless, he calls us to follow him, for sure.  However, he calls us in the words of Matthew's gospel that we read today to be childlike.  What does he mean?  What does he expect of us?

In our world today we read each day of the abuse of children by people of all ages and cultures and professions.  We recognize the reality of these offenses because we say that children are so very vulnerable.  So, who would want to be like a child in today's cultures?

Sometimes, it seems, packaging young children in vulnerability does prevent our failure to see that children have "a great capacity for intimacy, tenderness, trust, compassion, awe and reverence" (Fr. Andy Alexander, SJ).  However, as children, and we were once children, grow they are taught just the opposite:  Don't trust others.  Intimacy is a dangerous experience.  The awe that once captured the minds and hearts of youngsters is so often ruined by what they encounter as they grow older.  Perhaps the greatest loss that comes to a child's life at one particular moment is when he/she looses the sense of wonder and awe.  When that happens, imagination is ruined.

Fr. Alexander notes that Jesus us calling us to return to childlike simplicity, awe and wonder.  For most of us that is not easy because, as one friend said to me recently, "I have been burned once too often".

Jesus is calling us, as adults, to return to our innate innocence and vulnerability.  To do that demands of us that we turn to the love of God for us, that we embrace his mercy which is poured out for us each time we celebrate the Eucharist and/or the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  Perhaps when we have embraced Jesus, as little children do - especially when they are introduced to the child Jesus in a nativity scene.  And, just as children easily open themselves to others, so too we are called by our Savior to open ourselves to others and to accept them as God has created them with their own sense of awe and vulnerability.

Oremus pro invicem,

Fr. Milt