Children are an interesting lot!
They love to play, to quarrel, to engage in arguments, to tease, to show love and affection etc…
Children indeed amaze us…with their simplicity, innocence, curiosity and their power of wonder.
Jesus in the Gospels time and again invites us to grow in our spirit and spirituality of being like a Child!
The famous artist, Picasso, once said:
“All children are artists.
The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up..”
>> Many of us, as we age in years, tend to lose many of the good qualities and merits of a child.
>> Many of us, as we mature, tend to fritter away the precious pearls of simplicity and openness of a child
>> Many of us, as we advance in life, tend to paint our inner innocence with many external shades of duplicity.
But the Gospel of the Day shows us another dimension or rather, warns of a distortion in this striving to be a child…
One can easily stray away from the path of being child-like and transgress into the danger of being Childish!
Child-likeness is a beautiful virtue which is to be cultivated and nurtured to grow in our love of God!
>> Childishness is an ugly vice which is to be weeded and cast away to grow in our relationship with God!
What is child-likeness?
>> To be like a child is to possess a kitty of trust, faith, innocence and straightforwardness.
>> To be like a child is living in the present moment with a deep sense of wonder and admiration over life.
>> To be like a child is to have a faith which is matchless and a great amount of dependence on the One who cares!
But what is childishness?
>> Childishness is a child-like behaviour which has grown sore and strays away from honest qualities of life.
>> Childishness is having selfishness at its core: a vice that wants the world around to always dance to its tune!
>> Childishness is sticking on to ignorance and unwillingness to learn from people and situations!
>> Childishness is being glued to being stubborn and adamant at all aspects to suit one’s desires and comforts!
>> Childishness is being unmindful of the value and preciousness of people, things, feelings and situations.
This danger of Childishness can sometimes creep into our spiritual life and can hamper and cause havoc in many areas of our Christian life.
How can childishness in spirituality become a dangerous ploy?
Childishness in spirituality…
… can make people to suit teachings for one’s own desire, at the cost of the Truth.
… can prevent people from being open to receive new insights from the Divine.
… can cause people to remain obstinate and block the moving of the Spirit.
… can prohibit people from recognizing the providential care of God.
And this is what we come across in today’s Gospel Passage: the exposition of the Childishness of the people!
Our Blessed Lord says:
“To what shall I compare this generation? It is like children…” (Mt 11:16)
Two persons who had committed themselves totally to the cause of the Kingdom are under the scanner today – John the Baptist and Jesus.
>> John the Baptist lived in the wilderness and in preparation for the arrival of the Messiah.
>> John did not drink wine, and he and his followers fasted regularly. He baptized people in the Jordan River.
But John also preached repentance and gave a clarion call to turn away from one sins!
> And this irked the people…
The elders of the Jewish community dreaded him because he recognized the corruption of the priests, and publicly called them to repent and be baptized.
They refused, because they wanted to keep their power, their wealth, their full stomachs and their fine clothing!
>> Jesus went around the cities and towns healing the sick and curing the lepers and doing many mighty works.
>> Jesus shared in the table-fellowship of many people regularly. Jesus preached the Kingdom of God.
But Jesus also challenged people to let go off their sinful and corrupt lives and turn to God in penitence!
> And this annoyed the leaders…
The Pharisees hated him because he preached with much authority and his new understanding of the law was highly challenging!
They rejected Him, because they wanted to stick to their traditions, empty hearts and their inhuman practices!
Jesus and John both would have hit high on the popularity charts if they had “lightened up” or “played nice” or “would have allowed things to be little more easy”!
But both of Them did not budge…
This is what Jesus says:
“We played the flute for you, you did not dance;
We mourned to you, you did not weep.” (Mt 11: 17)
This reaction by the people to Them was a song of derision… a tune of mockery…a melody of ridicule!
>> John the Baptist and Jesus, both, failed to let this Spiritual Childishness to overpower Them and to give in to silly demands!
We all can fall victims to spiritual childishness or we ourselves can fall into the trap of being spiritually childish!
Let us beware of the dangers of this ‘subtle and sly’ vice – CHILDISHNESS …
… and seek the grace of God to make efforts to rather be CHILD-LIKE in the Presence of God!
God Bless! Live Jesus!
Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “We all colour devotion according to our own likings and dispositions.
One man sets great value on fasting, and believes himself to be leading a very devout life, so long as he fasts rigorously…
… although the while his heart is full of bitterness.
>> And while he will not moisten his lips with wine, perhaps not even with water, in his great abstinence…
… he does not scruple to steep them in his neighbour’s blood, through slander and detraction!”