Friday, November 16, 2012

Faith like a child.

We read in Luke 18:16-17 "But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”" What a beautiful image, to have faith like a child. Jesus said, "Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." 

What a powerful statement, in order to enter the kingdom of God we need to have faith like a little child. What does that look like? What does that faith feel like? I've been pondering this recently, and a few memories of children showing me how to be faithful come to mind. The most recent one that comes to mind was just last weekend, and probably what got me to really thinking about this. My mom lives about two hours from me, and so I don't make it over to see her as often as I wish I could, so I usually find myself visiting on Saturdays, because I have church on Sundays. Anyway, my mom is Catholic and attends Saturday afternoon Mass, and I like to go with her when I'm in the area, it gives me a chance to see and talk to people I don't get a chance to see or talk to often, and well, no one can deny the beauty and reverence that is present in a Catholic church. 

Last weekend I went to Mass with her and we had my little eight month old niece with us, it was towards the end and she started getting cranky right before communion, so I snuck out to change her, and decided to just wait at the exit for the service to conclude. As I was standing there, right outside the door I saw a young family leaving, Mom, Dad, baby in a car seat, and two little girls, the older one was about four or five, and the little one was probably three, an older three I think. As they walked out I saw that littlest girl stand up on her little tippy toes, dip her fingers in the holy water, and make the sign of the cross, and as she did, I heard her say "Goodbye, Mary, I love you." What a show of faith from one so young! The thing that I found absolutely amazing in this show of faith is that she was the only one that did. No, I don't mean the only one that said goodbye to Mary, I mean the only one in her family to dip her fingers in the holy water, the only one in her family to make the sign of the cross on her way out the door, not her mother, father, or older sister did this. This shows so much faith on her part, what an amazing role model for us grown ups. 

This shows a fearless faith, a faith so deep that she didn't care who was watching, if she did what she was supposed to or not, if no one else was doing it, or if her entire family had to stop and wait for her. She didn't care that she was the only one showing that outward sign of faith. How many of us can say that? Who among us can honestly say that we have never skipped, hurried, or prayed discretely before a meal because of the company we were in? Who among us can honestly say that we have never knowingly missed an opportunity to show Christ the depth of our faith, the love that He showed for us on that cross, because of where we were or who we were with? Who among us can honestly say that they have never done something for Christ they know they should have because they were embarrassed or afraid? I certainly can't say any of that. Oh, to have the fearless faith of that little girl.

This shows a devoted faith, a faith so firmly rooted in the tradition, in the love of Christ, in the knowledge of why we go to church. A knowledge, understanding, and devotion that most adults don't have. You could tell by how simply she did this that this wasn't a new thing for her, that this was a regular,common place thing for her, you could tell by the way she did it without hesitation, and by the way her whole family just stopped and waited for her, that they were accustomed to her devotion. We are talking about a three year old here! A little bitty girl! A little tiny thing that had faith and devotion running through her, she understands why we go to church, to draw us closer to Christ. Now, I know, my dear Protestant friends, I know what you're thinking, "but she didn't say good bye to Jesus, she said goodbye to Mary!" Think about it from the perspective of a child. The Catholic church lifts Mary up, and reveres her,not above God, or as God, but as a perfect Christian, as an example for us all, what a sacrifice she made, no, not greater than dying on a cross for our sins. But in a time when (unmarried) teen mothers were shunned, maybe even killed, and certainly not held high, given a free ride, and a TV show. What faith and trust in God Mary had! Back to this little girl, obviously raised in a church that gives Mary respect and admiration, a little girl that is probably very close to her own mother, and loves her own mother dearly, it only makes sense that she would say goodbye to Mary. This shows a loving faith, a love of her church, and of Christ, and of His mother. 

What a pure, simple display of love. This simple act clearly demonstrates a deep, personal relationship with Christ, to be so conversational, as if she were saying, "Goodbye, Mommy, I love you" on her way out the door to preschool. When was the last time you showed your love of Christ? So openly, and unashamed? How is your personal relationship with Christ?

This shows a pure faith, a simple, plain, unquestionable faith in God. I have never heard a child ask IF God exists, WHY God exists, or HOW God exists, He just does. They don't need years of theology and a deep knowledge of the Bible to know, and love the Lord. They just do. It's pure, it's simple, it's easy for them to understand. "Of course God is real, what a dumb question." I heard a seven year old remark one time. For a child the logistics don't matter. The only thing that matters is that God is real, and they love him faithfully, purely, devotedly, fearlessly, and openly. 

I think that's what it means to have faith like a child. To have a simple, pure, undiluted, deep loving, personal relationship with Him. To not question, not worry, not be afraid, to just know. Just love. Just have faith.Oh, to have faith like this child. My prayer is that we can all desire, and seek to achieve this, and that this little girl never loses her childlike love and faith. 

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