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The great value of spiritual childhood

The gospel of St. Luke 9,46-50, shows us how being childlike in spirit would enable us to accept Christ as he is as well as to accept everybody else irrespective of how they are. It’s a great lesson we have to learn if we want to be truly Christian.

In that gospel, Christ clarified how being simple and humble like a little child would enable one to accept Christ. “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me,” he said. “And whoever receives me receives the one who sent me. For the one who is least among all of you is the one who is the greatest.”

This clarification of Christ came as a consequence of the apostles talking among themselves about who among them was the greatest. It can be supposed that they must be feeling important since they realized they had the fortune of knowing and being with Christ.

But that was not enough. The gospel somehow links being simple, humble and childlike with the capacity to be accepting and to be able to have a good working relationship with everyone irrespective of who and how they are, despite the unavoidable differences and conflicts among them. This point Christ established when he said, “Whoever is not against you is for you.”

We have to realize that if we want to be with God always and to know the fine points of his mysterious will and ways, we need to be always simple and childlike. Christ may have told us also to be clever and shrewd like serpents, but that quality which is also a necessity in our life here on earth should never compromise our simplicity. In fact, that cleverness should also spring from our simplicity.

Christ is quite clear about this point. “I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,” he said, “for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike.” (Mt 11,25)

Christ reiterated this necessity of being childlike a number of times during his preaching. “Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt 18,3) “Let the children come to me. Do not prevent them, for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” (Mk 10,15) St. James, in his letter, made the same affirmation. “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” (4,6)

We need to devise an interior mechanism, more spiritual than material, to keep ourselves like children even as we grow in worldly knowledge and skills, and prone to thinking that we can already live by ourselves, independently of God.

To be childlike would also enable us to be accepting of everyone and to be able to work with everyone, irrespective of who and how they are. The mere fact that everyone can be presumed to be looking always for what is true and good, even if they are wrong in their pursuit, can signify that we have a common bond. Those who differ with us cannot really be against us. And so, we can always find ways of how to deal with them in a charitable way.

If we follow the example of Christ, we would know how to live the truth in charity and charity in the truth. Somehow the exclusivity of truth blends with the inclusivity of charity! How important therefore to grow in spiritual childhood in our life!*

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