To Be As A Child

Reflection on Matthew 18: 1-5, 10, 12-14

This is a reading that uses tender imagery – a small child – to teach us a couple of lessons about the way we should lead our life.

The literal words tell us that unless we change and become like little children, we will not enter thekingdomofGod. What’s that all about?

Think about the characteristics that you observe in your grandchildren or nieces and nephews. The traits that a young child has are universal; there is total trust, there is dependence on an adult, there is unconditional love and there is constant forgiveness.

But as children grow, those traits become modified, sometimes even suppressed. Trusts get betrayed; dependence on others gets beaten out in a society that prizes a “me first attitude”; unconditional love becomes cynically conditional and forgiveness is supplanted by long held grudges or differences.

Yet, God tells us that our relationship with Him should never go the way of the adult world. He asks us to keep the traits of our childhood when we think of Him: to always trust Him, to always turn to Him for our needs; to know that we are loved by Him unconditionally and to know that we are always forgiven for what we do. Those should be comforting words for us.

Today is Yom Kippur, the most solemn day in the Hebrew calendar. It’s a day when Jews everywhere ask for forgiveness from God and from one another. Forgiveness is one of the central aspects of our relationship with God and with one another. Who among us does not feel lightened when we are forgiven by another? Imagine how liberated we can be if we can hold on to the belief that our God forgives us. And he does. Scripture is replete with passages that tell us of God’s love and God’s forgiveness.

You know, last week, we talked about keeping a well of good memories and happy times. A well that whenever we are feeling alone, or tired, or just out of sorts, that we can go to and drink of the water of sweet memories. Let’s stay with the metaphor of a well for a moment. Think about those good memories and happy times that we have had. Do you know where that water came from? All those good times and happy memories had a source. The source was love, wasn’t it? All those good memories and happy times contained acts or expressions of pure love.. And what are the characteristics of love? Trust, faith in another, selfless acts and a desire to forgive. That same love which filled up our memory well has the same characteristics of God’s love for us because it was inspired by God– the same characteristics that we see in a little child. So any time we go to our memory well to drink and to be filled, know that those memories were inspired and led by God’s love. And He asks that we always remember that we are indeed his children whom He will always love and protect.

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