A little boy once came to his Daddy, one night.
He confessed a mistake that he had done during the course of the day.
Then kneeling at Daddy’s feet, the child, with hands folded, prayed with tears:
“Dear God, make me a man – like Daddy – wise and strong.
I know You can!”
This innocent gesture touched the father very much.
He had a profound realisation of his deep limitations and the child’s high expectations
Then when the child had slept, the father knelt beside his bed.
Confessing his sins, and praying with a low-bowed head, made this prayer:
“O God, make me a child – like my sweet child here – pure, guileless, trusting in You with a faith sincere.
I know You can!”
We all grow up in life – physically, socially, psychologically etc
But sometimes this “growing up” fails to preserve the “growth” that is already witnessed in little children – openness, sincerity, trust and spontaneity.
Can we dare, as adults, to “grow” into being a Child?
The Gospel of the Day is an elegant presentation by Jesus on the “necessary attitude” that is required for a valid entry into the Kingdom of Heaven: a child-like nature.
Jesus says, “Truly I say to you, unless you turn and become like little children, you will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven” (Mt 18: 3)
One of the grave dangers in the process of “growing- up” is the tendency to lose our “natural child-like” traits.
A child is someone who is born with many inherent qualities.
But in the process of “becoming an adult”, we abandon many of those.
This ‘abandonment’ could be because…
… of the upbringing in the society or the culture we live
… or the various experiences that we go through as we grow up
As a child, we would be free to express our emotions
… but as we grow up, we tend to hold them up all within (only to burst out one day!)
As a child, we would trust and depend easily on those who care for us
.. but as we grow up, we become fearful or disbelieving towards those same persons
As a child, we would be eased to live in the present moment, enjoying and relaxing
… but as we grow up, we fall into the trap of the past and cringed with the fear of the future.
This “growth” process also affects our child-like faith and trust in God our Father.
Jesus presents the beautiful imagery of a Shepherd who goes behind the lost sheep.
The cry of that sheep which has been strayed pierces the heart of the shepherd
The dangers that the sheep which was lost is exposed to frightens the shepherd
Such is the deep longing and craving of our Heavenly Father towards us – we, who sometimes turn out to be the lost sheep by losing our child-like faith and confidence.
A popular song from the Hindi movie “Three Idiots” has the following line:
“… Give me another chance, I wanna grow up once again…”
The Lord invites us to have a “renewal of our minds” and to retrieve back the ‘lost’ child-like faith and trust.
It takes courage and dare to make efforts to let go of our “matured egoistic” tendencies in order to depend more on our Heavenly Father.
The process usually is encountered by resistance…
• Why should I depend on someone… I am mature enough to think for myself
• Why should I become humble… I have my own desires to be satisfied to
These could be some of the thought-patterns that one stumbles into, in giving heed to the call of the Lord to ” be like a child”.
Our Lord Himself is the greatest model and example in learning to have a “child-like” faith…
St Paul tells in his letter to the Philippians, ” ..though He was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God, a thing to be grasped. Rather, He emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave…. becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2: 6-8)
May St Clare of Assisi, whose feast we celebrate today, become an inspiration for us to firmly trust in God.
In her words:
“Place your mind before the mirror of eternity!
Place your soul in the brilliance of glory!
And transform your entire being into the image of the Godhead Itself through contemplation!
Gaze upon Him, consider Him, contemplate Him, as you desire to imitate Him.”
May we be privileged to be graced with the gift of being “like children” and thus be able to firmly trust and relax in the arms of our Caring and Loving Heavenly Father!
God Bless! Live Jesus!