SAINT TERESA BENEDICTA OF THE CROSS (EDITH STEIN), VIRGIN AND MARTYR
Unless you turn and become like children . . .
Hollywood loves to make movies in which children find themselves in adult bodies. These stories work because it’s entertaining to see an adult exhibiting the naïveté or mannerisms of a child. But that’s not what Jesus had in mind when he told us to become like children.
Jesus does not want us to become immature or goofy like the adults-turned-kids in the movies. Rather, he wants us to grow in the virtues that we see in children. He doesn’t want us to lose the wisdom or sense of judgment that we have learned; he wants us to add to them some of the childlike attributes that we may have lost along the way: humility and innocence, for example, as well as a willingness to trust people.
The ability to “become like children” doesn’t happen overnight as it does in the movies. It takes effort and practice to become alert to prideful or selfish thoughts that may harden our hearts. It also takes relying on the power of the Spirit for help rather than trying to change our hearts on our own.
It isn’t always easy to recapture our childlike innocence and trust—especially if we’ve been hurt in the past. That means we may get discouraged when we find ourselves falling back into patterns of cynicism or world-weariness or pride. But remember, becoming like children means coming to your heavenly Father. And like any good father, he is always proud whenever a child of his takes even a small step of progress. He rejoices every time you notice a fault and ask his help in overcoming it.
When Jesus said, “It is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost,” he wasn’t just talking about children (Matthew 18:14). He was talking about all of God’s “little ones”—each one of us who is trying to live as his own beloved child. God doesn’t want you to get “lost” in the maze of “grown-up” life in this world. He wants to help you. He is always ready to forgive you, encourage you, and strengthen you.
“Lord, help me let go of my pride and self-centered ways so that I can become more like the child of God you created me to be.”
Psalm 119:14, 24, 72, 103, 111, 131
Matthew 18:1-5, 10, 12-14