To introduce this beatitude I want to turn to common wisdom versus wisdom wisdom. A story takes place in the tenth chapter of Mark verses thirteen through sixteen. This gives us a brief insight into the humanness of Jesus. People were bringing their children to Jesus so that Jesus would touch them and bless them. Innocuous as this was, the disciples got their togas in a knot and snapped at the people to keep their mat rats away from the important person, Jesus. Jesus hears his and says wait,
“whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like these little ones, can’t enter it.” (Mark 10:15)
Then he blesses them.
Seems pretty straight forward doesn’t it. I think the implication however is much more profound. If the kingdom of God belongs to “such as these” referring to the children, where does that leave us? Where does this pronouncement of innocence and wonder leave us. I don’t know about you, but my sense of wonder, just in education started to wane when I was in the 3rd grade learning times tables, and was introduced to the “game” of education and the unforgiving grade.
Since I have sobered up, I find myself wondering more and more. I am not innocent by any stretch of the imagination. So then for me what does it mean to be a child and not childish?
Kids make up games, they paint red flowers blue and leaves pink sometimes. The oldsters get upset at the youngsters telling them that their pictures do not represent reality. In our desire not to allow children to experience the pitfalls and laughter of life, I think we retard them in the same way I plugged into the education game in 3rd grade. We do not allow them to witness the world from their height. We want them to “grow up” or “act your age” whatever those phrases mean. I think they are acting their age. I wonder when we say, “grow up” we aren’t jealous of their habitation as children. Their creativity of making a gun out of a pencil because we don’t allow them to play with guns demonstrates that their creativity knows no convention. They transcend the sense of the impractical when it comes to ideas or visions. I wonder what we want them to become? Jesus had the insight to tell the audience present and us that the “kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” My dream when I was little was to become a cowboy. I wonder what the world would be like if it was populated by cowboys and ballerinas? I know the lack of practicality in that, but allowing these little ones to be in their own world, encouraging and correcting them along the way, I believe opens up many more doors for them than I experienced being practical and civilized.
When absorbing knowledge they want the simple answers. When dealing with race, there are more acceptances. And when they share, they share without strings.
What I can learn from a child if I listen and observe is simplicity of acceptance of things on faith. If I tell a youngster that God made them he accepts that fact without doing all of the Tomistic syllogisms. It is not complex. I wonder why I have make things complex anyway? Maybe its because I want to control the knowledge.
Recently I went to the beach with seventy-five seventh graders as a chaperone. Our task was to fill out a sheet of beach things, kelp, hermit crabs, sand crabs, feathers, and tide pools. The class went to a beach three blocks from my home. I must admit, it was the first time in 20 years that I had been to that part of the beach where the tide pools are. I got caught up in the sense of wonder that the kids had when the actually saw first hand what they had been reading and studying about in their classrooms. I got excited when I saw a hermit crab trying its best to get away from the prying fingers of the kids.
This is the flash of the state of mind that Jesus is talking about when it comes to the kingdom. It isn’t that difficult, I need to slow down, breathe and look around. Then I can begin to see and be like the child.
I believe it is only children who can really see the face of God in all things. They aren’t so distracted. They hear the song whispered under the din of living daily lives in our hectic way.
Jesus speaks to us in these three stories and provides us with direct opportunities to make the necessary changes in our lives to focus on what is really and truly important and deciding that everything else is something to do and not an end in itself. When I put on the lenses of Jesus, I begin to see the wonder of love and the wonder of creation with a clean heart. I can look down at the little face staring up at me and listen to him/her tell me about the world they see from their height. Now if I could only learn to shut up and listen.