Contemplating Jesus

AS A CHILD

Posted on by Lucinda M. Vardey

 

Jean-Baptiste-Greuze – Portrait of a Girl, (19th Century)

Jesus had plenty of time for children. When his followers wanted to shoo them away he embraced and blessed them. Children are what Jesus invites us to become. He said, “Unless you change and become like children you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt 18:1-4)

A child then is how Jesus portrays the essence of who he is. Throughout the gospel Jesus challenges the ways of the so-called wise, the learned, those holding high positions, those in power, those who feel superior, those who expect attention, those who judge, those who plan and prosper, those who strive to attain material security. This is not the way of a child. “Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven,” he said. (Matt l8:4)

Humility is the prime virtue of spiritual childhood. Thomas Merton explained that “a humble person takes whatever there is in the world that helps him/her to find God and leaves the rest aside.” A humble disposition then leads us to rely solely on God and God’s ways. As a child is reliant on being cared for, is open to the magnificence of life, the newness of knowledge, the small delights of nature, Jesus invites us to let go of all that keeps us from embracing a state of innocence. Innocence frees us from ourselves and humility opens the doorway to our own freedom.

What Jesus promises is “the kingdom of heaven” to the one who lets herself be dismantled from the self-imposed imprisonment of complex ideas, the suffering that comes from being stuck in habits that do not nourish, and a life composed of pursuing the wrong things.

Jesus came into the world as a vulnerable child, reliant on human care. Jesus left the world as a vulnerable child reliant on the care of God. His journey directs ours, our lives then are to become who we are in the embrace of a parent God.

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