Mumbai Catholic Charismatic Renewal (CCR) | STRIVING FOR CHILDLIKENESS


12th October, 2015
Mr.Francis D'souza (Courtesy Charisindia Magazine) STRIVING FOR CHILDLIKENESS
On the 1st of October the Church celebrates the feast of St Therese of Lisieux also known as ‘The Little Flower.’ She died at a very young age of 24. She was canonized on May 17, 1925, by Pope Pius XI, and she was proclaimed a Doctor of the Universal Church by Pope John Paul II.  She had a special love for missions and she spent much time in praying and also made many sacrifices for the missionaries. For this reason she is named patroness of all Catholic missions, along with St Francis Xavier. She is also the patron of aviators.
The gospel reading for this day is from Matthew 18:1 – 5 wherein Jesus is giving a fitting reply to the disciples’ question “Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?” Further, Jesus is giving us the secret to enter the Kingdom of Heaven – and the key to both is “CHILDLIKENESS”.
The importance of childlikeness
All the three synoptic gospel writers agree that childlikeness is the most important attribute  to enter the kingdom of Heaven.  
Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."(Matt 19:14, Mark 10:14, Luke 18:16)
The call to Childlikeness
In Matt 18:3 Jesus says, "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
What is Childlikeness
“Childlike” or ‘little children” are what we adults are prior to our loss of innocence. They are active, wide-eyed explorers of ever-expanding horizons. They are entertainers: imitators, actors, and comedians. They are vulnerable, impressionable, playful, and candid. They express simple,   uncluttered feelings, thoughts, and opinions. Little children are not afraid to ask questions, to ask for help or to offer it. They know how to laugh. They know how to cry when a good cry helps to make things better. Little children are able to express their needs, which is, probably one reason Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Unlike adults, little children before reaching the age of reason have no desire for power, neither do they have any inclination for external distinctions or malice.
Let’s take a look at how the disciples fared in this area:
Matt 18:1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?"
The disciples were anxious about power and authority. They were not following the norms of the kingdom and so were treading on dangerous grounds. As the saying goes – “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
Mark 10:37 They (James and John, the sons of Zebedee) replied, "Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory."
They were looking for places of honor, power, prestige, importance, prominence, and recognition. Once again not in line with the kingdom conduct. Jesus ways are different:
If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all. Mark 9:35
Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Matt 18:4
For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. Luke 14:11
Jesus was talking to Peter about his mission and his death but when Peter saw John, he asked, "Lord, what about him?" (John 21:21). Peter was inquisitive to know about John. He was minding other’s business which could even be bordering on jealousy or envy.
For Therese, God is also like mother, as we see in Isaiah 66:10 - 14 (perhaps because she lost her mother when she was barely four) taking care of the simple and young! Thus she concludes, “I had to remain little and become this more and more” – in order to be filled with God’s motherly love.  
To be childlike means to remain small intentionally and thereby recognize our nothingness and thus forever gathering and learning
She knew the story of Shemei from 2 Sam 16:5 - 14 in which David was humiliated by Shemei. David’s general asked for permission to kill him. But David stopped him saying “No, God made him (Shemei) to humble me, to make me little.”
To be childlike is to adopt the qualities and attitudes found in a child. Children are spontaneous, fearless, innocent and forgiving. They are spontaneous and simple in their words and actions because they come from their heart. They are fearless because they completely trust in the protection of their parents. They are innocent because they have not been influenced by the crookedness and cunningness of the world. They easily forgive because of the innocence of their heart.
To become like a little child is to humble oneself, giving up all pretensions of self-importance, independence, and turning in trust to the heavenly Father.
To be childlike means to return to a time in your life when learning was more important than accusing, integrity more important than looking good and accepting the One who is always marching before you.
The contrast between Childlike faith (mature faith) and childish faith (immature faith) can be seen from the following:
Childish faith: Good Christians don't have pain and disappointments.
Childlike faith: God uses our pain and disappointment to make us better Christians.
Childish faith: God wants to make us happy.
Childlike faith: God wants to make us holy.
Childish faith: God always answers prayers.
Childlike faith: Sometimes He answers with "No" or "Wait."
Childish faith: Faith will help us to always understand what God is doing.
Childlike faith: Faith will help us to stand under God's sovereignty even when we don't have a clue about what God is doing.
Childish faith: Good Christians are always strong.
Childlike faith: Our strength is in admitting our weakness.
Here is the heart of the matter: Childish faith is self-centered and demanding. It expects God to shield us from all difficulties and to make life comfortable for us. In contrast, Childlike faith focuses on God. It trusts Him to use even difficulties for our good and His glory.
Time to examine ourselves: What kind of faith is ours? Childish or Childlike
God, give me the faith of a little child,
Who trusts so implicitly,
Who simply and gladly believes Thy Word
And never would question Thee.  -Showerman