This is a syndicated post from Daily Meditations with Fr. Alfonse. [Read the original article...]
Tuesday of the Nineteenth Week In Ordinary Time
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The disciples approached Jesus and said, “Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?” He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven.”
Just a few minutes ago, I read how Pope Francis told a group of young people back in May to shout “Jesus” and not Francis.
“From now on no more ‘Francis,’ only ‘Jesus,’ alright?…All of you in the square shouted out ‘Francis, Francis, Pope Francis,’ but where was Jesus?” he admonished them. “I want to hear you shout out ‘Jesus, Jesus is Lord, and he is in our midst.”
To be childish. Back in the old days, children were meant to be seen, not heard. Today, kids are speaking way too much for their size and age. It’s not all bad, given the fact that so many parents are acting like kids today!
To be childish means to think of yourself, and yourself alone; to monopolize someone’s time and make of yourself more than you truly are.
In his spiritual autobiography “Quest for God,” Paul Johnson describes a humorous encounter he had with an atheist friend of his, Sir Alfred Ayer. He writes:
“We used to meet at the Beefsteak Club, where I enjoyed teasing him. ’Freddie, I suppose it would be a correct statement to say you are the most intelligent man in Britain.’ ’Oh, no, no, no, my dear fellow,’ he would begin modestly, ‘don’t be absurd.’ Then, intellectual rigour and his love of truth would assert themselves. ’Well, if one looks at the statement seriously – if one considers – if, in short, one wishes to be strictly honest, I suppose – indeed I must – conclude you are right; you are, in fact absolutely right!”
It’s not an uncommon occurrence for modesty and integrity to be replaced by pride and wishful thinking. There’s simply not enough room in the human heart and brain for both to coexist. I know, I keep trying to squeeze the two in there!
But what’s worse is that it’s not uncommon for someone’s logic to flow like honey but their thoughts like diarrhea, or to be highly skilled in the art of debating and yet defending what is absolutely atrocious!
It’s not uncommon at all to see an intelligent man be a hypocrite, and to cast aside honesty for the sake of victory.
This is what it means to be childish.
To be childlike. To be a child often means to be physically small and weak in intelligence. Therefore, to be “childlike” must obviously mean to be intentionally small and forever gathering and learning. It means to consider oneself small and insignificant and to be an eternal student. Hence, to be a child is no longer the result of certain physical processes brought about by genetics but rather a virtue brought about by hard work.
To be a child is no longer a description of what you are but of who you are.
To be childlike means to return to a time in your life when learning was more important than accusing; integrity more important than the “bella figura” (looking good); and being good outweighed all other things…including being “right.”
To be childlike means to accept the One who is always marching before you.
“Moses summoned Joshua and in the presence of all Israel said to him, “Be brave and steadfast, for you must bring this people into the land which the Lord swore to their fathers he would give them; you must put them in possession of their heritage. It is the Lord who marches before you; he will be with you and will never fail you or forsake you. So do not fear.”
Believing does not require seeing. Otherwise, the question of God would have been resolved back in the Stone Age!
To believe simply requires honesty and modesty. Pride and prejudice suffocate the Lord out of all of us. There’s simply not enough room for both to coexist.
The Jews of old, like all people young and old, constantly struggle with being childlike. After all, arrogance is not something new. It is something quite old.
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