A Catholic Monthly Magazine

Being Childlike

By Bridget Taumoepeau

One day at Mass two little girls went up at communion time to receive a blessing. I saw them shyly wave to a couple sitting in front of me, who must have been their grandparents. After the blessing the shyness was gone and they rushed up to the couple, ran into their pew and hugged and embraced them.  Their parents slipped into the pew behind, not that it mattered, as the little girls had long forgotten them in the excitement of spotting their grandparents. 

Shining eyes looked up at the older ones, little hands curled around their necks and silly faces were made. No notice was taken of those around, as they were focussed only on the joy of meeting up.

And what did the older folks do?  They responded in kind. They hugged the children, lifted them up, whispered to them, and showed them when to sit or stand.

One of my sons in law, some years ago, commented at Christmas when there were lots of children around, how different we are with each other as adults – even those we love. No longer do we fly into each other’s company or try to sit on the knees of others. Silly though this prospect may seem, it does illustrate the change that comes over us as we grow up. The spontaneity and unashamed display of affection seems to fade. Worse still, we lose that unconditional love and start to complain about and criticise those close to us. 

The Holy Father has often commented about children and constantly shows his affection for them. He once pointed out how touched he was that parents would hold up their children for a blessing – putting them before their own wishes. He knew that they did it for love of their children. The Gospels tell us that we should become like little children if we want to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

Why do we find it so difficult to be childlike, as the Gospel demands?  Lots of reasons, including the fear of rejection and hurt; of not having those feelings and behaviours reciprocated; of being ridiculed. 

Perhaps at least in our relationship with God, we could practice being a child again – showing Him unconditional love, knowing that we can do this without fear; that God will accept us as we are and will be smiling at us and hugging us, just as the Holy Father promised would happen for the seriously ill children whom he visited in hospital.   

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