Becoming Like Children

“When you love someone, you want to touch them.” That was the answer of a second grader at a First Holy Communion Mass when asked why we receive the Eucharist.  At first, this answer sounds a bit odd…a bit simple.  But think about this for a moment.  We love God so, so much, yes? We want to unite with Him and become one flesh with Him, yes? In other words, in a sense, we want to touch Him.  Whether it be to our tongue or on the “throne” we create for Him in our hands, we long for Him, for union with Him, and we long to touch Him.  That second grader most likely didn’t realize how deep and beautiful and absolutely correct their answer was.  And yes, there are other reasons we have for receiving the Eucharist.  But I just found that second grader’s answer to be so profound…so thought-provoking.

It is truly beautiful to see how children are able to unite themselves with Christ in such an intimate way.  God tells us in Matthew to “become like little children,” and the more I think about it, the more important that seems.  Many of those second graders (if not all of them) probably have a deeper understanding and belief that the Eucharist truly is the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ than most adults.  Children have an easier time believing and understanding those complicated things that many adults have a hard time grasping without some sort of physical image, evidence or proof.  I’m not saying that there aren’t many of us who truly believe that the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ.  I’m just saying that we all have those moments where we are receiving His Body and Blood, and we believe it, but we do not show immense awe and reverence.  We don’t always consciously think, “Wow! I’m about to receive Jesus in the Eucharist! This is the most amazing, beautiful thing in the world!“ We should try to make each time that we receive the Eucharist feel like our first, and embrace it as though it is our last.

There have been other instances that I have been pleasantly astonished by the words of children as well.  I work with middle school and high school youth in my free time, so I am around kids quite often.  We were having a Christmas party for the middle school kids and asked them what they wanted for Christmas.  I’m not even joking, the first three people to answer said “to get to Heaven,” “to be with my family,” and “pens, because I love to write.” The rest of the answers, as expected, were smart phones, iPads, and the like.  And I honestly could tell that these three kids were being genuine and completely honest.  It was so beautiful, and truly moving.  It was a great reminder that we should really be simplifying our lives.  We don’t need fancy gadgets to be happy.  We need God and our loved ones, and also to use the gifts that God has given us (such as that boy’s joy for writing).

Another thing about children that we should strive for is to be bold, fearless, and trusting.  I was recently on a ski trip and there was a ropes obstacle course with a zip-line.  Before going up to do it ourselves, we watched as a little girl zipped through the entire thing without hesitation and without looking back.  That is how we should approach our faith as well.  We should not be afraid of singing at a normal volume (no matter how bad or good our voice may be), praying openly (yes, this includes saying grace at a restaurant or cafeteria), or even telling someone who is not particularly religious that you are praying for them when they are venting to you about their struggles.  We should not be afraid to stand firm in our beliefs and love God openly and unapologetically.  This can be so scary; I know it from experience.  But if we have the same trust in Him that our smallest brothers and sisters have, everything will be okay.  If we place our trust in His will and embrace Him as a child embraces their parents, He will guide us to exactly where we need to be.  I’ve found this to be extremely difficult as a young adult, but I can say with absolute certainty that when I finally let go of my worries and let Christ carry me to the right path, my anxieties lessened dramatically and I felt so at peace.  It was like the story of Peter walking on water.  When He doubted or got scared, he truly struggled.  But when He trusted Jesus, everything was okay.  In my situation, trusting God with my whole heart made doing something that would normally be extremely hard a lot less painful than I expected.  Now, all through life, I must continue to keep that trust, for the path can certainly change, and many other obstacles will enter my life.  Children are so trusting in that sense.  They know that as long as they are with their parents, teacher, etc., they will be safe.  God is our Father and He will always love us unconditionally and have our best interests at heart.

I will end here with the passage from Matthew 18 that I mentioned above:

1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 He called a child, whom he put among them, 3 and said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  4 Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  5 Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.
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