Living as a Child of God

First Reading: Ez. 18:1-10, 13b, 30-32

Psalm: Ps. 51:12-13, 14-15, 18-19

Gospel: Mt. 19:13-15

We must become like children to enter thekingdomofGod. But what is a child like? Children are certainly not perfect or sinless. Anyone who has watched even the smallest of children play together has no doubt noticed the selfish impulses that motivate them. But one quality of children that we can imitate is their trust. Children have to be trusting. They depend on their parents and other adults for their survival and they know it. Even an abused child will trust his or her parents for quite a while before growing embittered.

This trust is a virtue. AsSt.Paul says of the charismatic gift of love, “There is no limit to love’s forbearance, to its trust, its hope, its power to endure.” Children seem to posses these essential traits of love. In this, they are very close to God, for as John tells us, “God is love.”

This childlike attitude is a part of one who is “born again” in the true sense of the word. But Paul does not want us to be childish in our childlikeness. He says, “Brothers, do not be childish in your outlook. Be like children as far as evil is concerned, but in mind be mature.” He says to the Ephesians, “Live as children of the light. Keep careful watch over your conduct. Do not act like fools, but like thoughtful men.” This hardly sounds like the conduct of immature children. As we mature as a church, the body of Christ, Jesus is actually realized and matured in us. This is a great mystery.

Do we seek a maturity that is based on childlike trust in God? Or do we seek a worldly wisdom that is, in essence, childish? Do we confuse childlikeness with childishness?St. Paulsays, “You know that when you were pagans, you were led astray as impulse drove you.” The wind of the Spirit involves more than just impulse. It involves mature discernment. We must have a balance between childlike openness to God and mature discernment of the Spirit.