14th Sunday Homily: Am I a Child?

Am I a Child?

What were these things the Father was hiding from the learned and the clever, those who were filled with themselves? What were these same things the Father thought fit to reveal to little children – those who were open to learning? Why did Jesus bless the Father for this seemingly peculiar discrimination?

Before Jesus spoke these words He had preached in several villages.  However, they refused to accept the words of our Lord.  Even though they had been impressed by the miracles Jesus performed, they would not accept or follow His teachings. They were too proud and felt that they needed no help in the area of their salvation.

The message of Jesus called for changes in their lives and so they turned their backs on the Son of Man and His message. By resisting the call to spiritual growth and making changes in their lives they had rendered themselves incapable of appreciating and receiving the experience of God’s love and promise of a fuller life. As Jesus says elsewhere; unless you change and become like little children you will be unable to enter the kingdom of Heaven.

By contrast, there were those who were child-like, open and docile to Jesus and His message. They were open to changing their lives for the better because of His preaching. They were capable of receiving the fullness of life here in this world and in the life hereafter.

Reflecting on my childhood, I am reminded of those times when my parents made it very clear to me and to my siblings that we had misbehaved; that we had to admit to doing wrong; that we had to say we were sorry for this; and that we would change for the better; and that we must take whatever punishment they saw fit. I still remember the loving hug of peace and reconciliation I received before going to bed.

Saint Paul described his own growth towards becoming an adult thus: When I was a child, I used to talk like a child, and see things as a child does, and think like a child, but now that I have become an adult, I have finished with all childish ways. I have no problem in recognizing there are childish ways that need to be discarded. I ask myself if there are solid values instilled in childhood that we must retain throughout our lives. They are so vital that we must never outgrow them or discard them.

Perhaps as we grow up we are liable to grow out of and away from admitting that we are doing wrong, and then of repenting, apologizing if necessary and of determining to change for the better? Perhaps we can become so confident in our own integrity, righteousness, or decency that it never occurs to us to admit to God or to others that we are doing wrong?

Where do we belong: Among the proud, learned and clever? Or among those who have learned what it means to be child-like in the eyes of God?  

Fr. Tom