Scripture Reflections

Monday, January 16, 2012

CHILD: THE ROLE MODEL




FEAST OF SANTO-NINO (THE CHILD JESUS)

Isaiah 9:1-6; Ephesians 1:3-6, 15-18; Mark 10:13-16


Child is the role model for Jesus’ followers. Jesus loved children. Children loved it to be with Jesus. Children had free access in His presence, any time, anywhere! He embraced them, blessed them and made them stand before the elders as an imitable model. The heart of the child, Jesus found, is closer to tHis own Heart. This is why He claimed that the way to the Kingdom of God is the way of the children. Jesus challenged His disciples with the imperative of becoming like a child: “Unless you become like a child you shall not enter the Kingdom of God”.

What did Jesus find in a child so fascinating, admirable and so unique to be elevated as the yardstick of His discipleship? A deeper examination of the word child would give us the clue.

The word “c-h-i-l-d” encompasses the chief qualities of an ideal disciple:

C- represents Care
H- stands for Humility
I- signifies Innocence
L- indicates Learning, and
D- suggests Dependence

Do Care, and Be Careful

Children remind us of the need to give and take care. Children are the most vulnerable in the human family. They need the care of their parents, elders, relatives, friends and the society as a whole. The child reminds us of becoming a caring family. When God the Father placed Jesus, His Son in the hands of Mary and Joseph, He was in fact showing us what care is all about. He was also proving us how much He cares for us. The next time you are bothered by the feeling that no body cares for you, look at the child Jesus, and remember that you are always placed in the caring hands of God. He has carved you in the hollow of His palm. There is something in the whole of creation that our heart is tuned to be caring for the little ones.

I remember it well. My parents used to remind me several times a day, to be careful. When I cross the street, when meet strangers, when I play with children, when I am out in the rain or shine... I used to hear them say, “be careful”. Even today, my well wishers and friends, in the parish remind me, “Father, be careful when you are alone, travelling on a jeep or visiting strange places and people...” It is natural for children to take this advice to their heart. As elders, we still need to be careful. Be careful with the kind of relationships we build, with the barkadas we move around with. I need to be careful with the attitudes I have, with the words I speak and the emotional outbursts I have. Yes, I need to be careful with the ways I walk, the places I step in, the examples I give to the people, the way I spend my time and talents. There are so many things I need to be careful about in my daily life. But as an adult, I often feel that I am strong enough, and nobody needs to remind me of being careful. How many times have I regretted the fact that “if only I had followed the advice and directions of my parents, and elders”! Let me be a child that I may care for others and be more careful about myself.

Humility: the hallmark of a child

There is this saying: “as humble as a child”. A child is humble because it knows it is small, weak, tender, vulnerable and dependent. When a child begins to act like an adult, we call them “proud”. Humility restores the rightful place of our life on earth. Children have the ability to grow because they are humble. Children get-over their hurts easily because they are naturally humble. Humility allows them to be respectful and obedient of their parents, teachers and elders. Children teach us that humility is not weakness but strength. Because they are small and vulnerable, children are the most powerful persons in the family. They make mistakes but easily say sorry. The matter is settled. They forget the hurts of others. It is easy for them to get along with others than it is for the elders.

Children consider others as bigger and greater than themselves. Their view of the world is one of wonder and praise. It takes humility to recognize the greatness of others. Humility is the melody of the heart that sings the notes of praise. Humility is the eye of the soul that can see unfolding miracles of life. Wonder, owe, praise, appreciation... these are signs of humility. Lord, help me be humble like a child that I may know my littleness and see the greatness of your love and the wonder of your creation.

Innocence: The synonym of an infant 

If you do not know what innocence is, just behold the face of a child. Children are naturally innocent because they come fresh from the heart of God. They reflect perfectly well the “image” and “likeness” of God. Children do not lie. They do not keep grudges in their heart. There is no malice in what children do and say. They behave as naturally as they are. They say what they mean and mean what they say. They do what they feel and find joy in little things. There is no duplicity in the heart of children. They do not discriminate. They do not put barriers and conditions on relationships. And so children enjoy tremendous freedom. The entire world is their home and play ground. Everyone on earth is their family member. They are at peace with anyone, anywhere. Have you seen how children sleep, and have you wondered if you were able to sleep like children—stress free, worry free, anywhere, any time? Be innocent as a child.

As we advance in years, we learn the ways of the world. The elders are our models. As elders we teach our children to tell lies, to be angry, to discriminate against people, to be selfish, not to be open. We teach them the ways of corruption and duplicity. Children challenge us to return to the original innocence with which we entered into the human family. No wonder, Jesus was categorical in telling us that we cannot enter the Kingdom of God unless we become innocent like children.

Learning: The sign of growing-up

Everyone who comes across a baby would be pleased to see that the baby learns something from him. Children are expected to learn. We take special care to teach our children. Parents take pride to see their children excel in learning. Children learn. They learn fast. They learn from their mistakes. It is ok for children to make mistakes. But they grow by learning lessons from them. It is easier to teach a child than an adult.

Children learn fast because they are open to the world that unfolds before them. They know pretty well that they do not know anything. Children are seekers. They want to grow up fast. So they are happy to grasp anything that comes along their way. They are uncritical. They do not engage in negative criticism. They look at others as genuine masters. Their eyes and ears are open to the words and directions, signs and symbols, laws and rules of the world. This makes their life exciting each moment.

For an adult it is hard to learn. This is because they become more critical, more self centred and close-minded. I often feel I know better. I feel that I know the fullness of truth. I feel you do not know anything. This is why if ever someone points to my mistakes I feel deeply hurt. This is why I often mutter, “How dare you teach me?” It is much difficult for me to admit that I make mistakes. It is much more difficult for me to learn from my mistakes.

Dependence: The key of security and happiness

A child is the most vulnerable creature on earth. Before birth it needs nine months in the protective atmosphere of the womb. After birth, it takes two years for a child to stand on its legs. It needs to be fed, bathed, carried around... yes the child depends on its parents and elders for everything. This dependence on others helps the child to grow in intimacy, love and affection. The child would naturally cling to its mother and the father. When they are around, the child feels secure and safe.

As I grow mature, I tend to be independent. I want to go my own way. The safety of the home and the instructions of the elders become barriers and fetters for me. I feel I am man enough. I do not like anyone guiding me. I do not want to depend on anyone. I feel ashamed to ask for help. Dependence is seen as weakness. Happiness is now found in my ability to be on my own.

Jesus’ ideal of a child challenges me to learn the value of inter-dependence. No matter how I advance in age, I am still a child of God, totally dependent on Him for my life and sustenance. I’m what I am because of the human family. I depend on the society for my daily needs. My joy is complete only when I find myself in others and share my joy with others. There is no single moment in life that I can live without God and others.

Lord, help me be a child, caring and careful, humble, innocent, learning, and dependent.





1 comment:

  1. Good post father. In various places in the gospels Jesus says we should be like children to know the ways of God. Too many adults are selfish and proud. That's why so many of them are enticed by the world rather than God.

    JI.

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