“I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike.” (Luke 10:21)
We generally take “childlike” to mean humble, or obedient, or trusting. But children can be cunning little liars, or swaggering bosses of the family, and they are often untrusting, and loath to leave a parent’s side in company.
Not quite what Jesus had in mind, perhaps?
What qualities of a child might reveal the workings of God to us? A child is a vulnerable thing. He needs to be fed and sheltered, and he relies upon the parent to sustain his life.
She comes to her parent with even simple needs.
He takes the world at face value: Rain is not wind. Scary is not nice. Cookies are good. There are no euphemisms in a child’s world.
She has many questions, though, and will keep asking until a reasonable answer comes.
He loves, and needs to feel loved in return, or he will literally wither and die, both in body and spirit.
A child also — and frequently — will loudly, mindlessly babble nonsense.
As we mature and become self-sufficient, we suppose we have sufficient wisdom and wherewithall to handle everything — answer all the questions, provide for ourselves. We will not consent to dependency. The idea of vulnerability becomes anathema: “What kind of ‘winning’ is that?”
The saints, though — from Teresa of Avila, to Therese of Lisieux, to Teresa of Calcutta, and all of the holy men and women who came before and after — show us a common willingness to depend upon God for everything. They consented to be open to the world, and to love, and they were ready to be loved in return, with the comprehensive but not-always-comprehensible love of God.
They were childlike in all ways but one: they did not babble nonsense. They were not mindless with their words; they did not adopt rowdy group mentalities or make noisy comparisons between themselves and others. They did not engage in the sort of mundane squabbling or glad-handing that fill our days, especially if we spend any time online.
God wants our vulnerability and dependence; he wants our questions (they show we’re paying attention!); he wants us to love, and to be open to his love in return.
All that other noise? Not so much.
In Advent, let’s take time each day to turn it off; to give in to a spiritual “naptime” away from the babbling all around, that we might learn to become more childlike, and ready to see what is being revealed.
Find a quiet corner and a sturdy chair. Sit. Light a candle if you can; don’t worry if you can’t. Close your eyes. Breathe. Breathe again. Just sit. Just breathe. Just quietly, between you and Christ Jesus, say “yes.” Consent to be open.
Aleteia will bring you reflections — Advent Light — for each day of this 2017 liturgical season. Follow the series here.
I quit social media for Advent—here’s what happened