Saturday, July 8, 2017

Being childlike

14th Sunday in OT Year A 2017:
You have hidden from the wise and the learned, but you have revealed to little ones.  This isn’t the first time that Jesus has made this point in the gospel.  He has told us before: humble yourselves like little children.  Children are remarkable in their honesty, their loving nature, their innocence, their reliance on others.  These qualities are certainly admirable.  All of us should aspire to being more honest, loving, innocent, and reliant on God.
But, what I find interesting about today’s gospel, Jesus says that the mysteries of God are revealed to the little ones, and not to the wise.  So, if we want to know more about God, if we want to know God better, we need to be little ones, not the wise and the learned.
I think that’s because when we are wise and learned we make things too difficult.  But, when we are child-like we can see things more clearly.
My first year here at St. Jude we had a meeting for all the kids and parents who were receiving first communion.  Part of my job at the meeting was to go over all the thing necessary for receiving Holy Communion.  So, everyone knows you have to fast for 1 hour before receiving communion.  This means no food or drink other than water or medicine for one hour before receiving communion.  Also, we should not come forward to receive Holy Communion if we are aware of grave sins.  Rather, we should go to confession before receiving communion.  So, I was asking the kids about these requirements.  So, I was asking the kids about eating before communion, and they got all that right.  Then I said something like: what about sin?  Is that good?  No, they all said.  If we do sin, where do we go.  I was trying to get them to say: confession.  But, I was making it all complicated. Where do we go if we sin?   So one kid raised her hand and said: we go to hell.  Wow.  She certainly wasn’t wrong.  I said, “youre right, we would go to hell.  Does anyone want to go there?  No, of course not.  So,” I said, “is there a place we can go to receive forgiveness?”  Yes, confession they all said. 
That little child taught me an important lesson.  First, she taught me to be more careful when I’m asking the kids questions.  But, second, she taught me: sin leads me to hell, communion and confession lead me toward heaven.  What a profound insight!  I’ve taken dozens of theology classes.  I’ve read books on mercy, books on sin, books on confession.  I’ve heard lectures, I’ve given lectures, I’ve done it all.  This sweet, innocent child revealed to me the mysteries of the kingdom.
Sometimes we make it all too complicated.  But, God reveals himself to the childlike.  So, this week make sure it’s not complicated.  Just listen to Jesus: come to me, and I will give you rest.  My yoke is easy, my burden light.  Jesus did not come to earth to make our lives worse.  He didn’t come here to give us huge burdens.  He came to give us life, to give us freedom, to give us himself.  But, we can make things so complicated that we can miss the presence of Christ in our lives. 

So, my advice this week is not complicated or difficult.  Simply spend some time with God.  Spend some time with your Father in heaven.  Be a little child.  Don’t make it complicated.  Just go to God and tell him what you need.  Here the voice of Jesus tell you: come to me and I will give you rest.  The whole spiritual life is built on prayer.  And the most necessary thing for a good life of prayer is humility.  Go to God like a little child and let him reveal to you the mysteries of the kingdom. 

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