The majority of my Christmas memories come out of my childhood years. I suspect that this might be true for most of us. Once we become adults, we seem to focus our attention on the children in our midst at this time of year. In the Gospel today, we hear Jesus at prayer, a prayer in which he praises God for hiding his wisdom from the clever and learned and making it available to the childlike. So even the Scriptures seem to say that this season of the year is best suited to children.
Becoming childlike is not a matter of shedding our maturity. Psychologists tell us that the brain does not fully develop until one reaches adulthood. The Church does not expect us to go back to being children. Rather Jesus uses this image to remind us that being a child of God is open to all regardless of how old and mature they might be. God is not interested in how intelligent we may be.
Recently I saw a video on one of the social media platforms which featured a young boy who asked his mother if he could get his hair cut just like his friend. He wanted to try to fool his teacher. If he and his friend had the same haircut, then his teacher would not be able to tell the difference between them. Of course, his friend happened to be African American and had very dark skin. However, he did not take that into account. All that distinguished him from his friend is that he had long hair, while his friend had very short hair. I cannot think of a better example of what it means to be childlike. If one were to try to tell him just how wise he was, he wouldn’t understand what the fuss was about. God had revealed the mystery of what it means to be friend to this little one. Would that the world were led by such as this little boy!
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator