Deacon Steven M. Johnson – St. James, Belvidere, IL
Homily for 4th Week of Lent, Thursday, 3-18-21, Year B
Optional Memorial – St. Cyril of Jerusalem
READINGS: 1st Ex 32:7-14; Gospel Jn 5:31-47
I often think about Christ’s speaking to His disciples when He said in Matthew 18:3, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”
What is it that children have that we adults lack? Are we not smarter than them? Have we not lived so long and gained experience and wisdom? Is not being mature and knowledgeable of the world a greater thing than the simple understanding and beliefs of children? Is ignorance really bliss?
What is the goal of child’s play? Do they have a plan on how they are going to dominate the playground to get what they want? Do they scheme and plan to choose the right friends so they can get on the next team for kickball? Do they worry about money or what their future will be and what they need to do to get there? No, they don’t. They live in the moment, understanding all things as they are at that instant.
A child’s goal is to be with others and enjoy each other in whatever happens to come their way. They don’t look at skin color, or how well off someone else is. They don’t worry about their status on the playground compared to others. They love unconditionally. Children trust completely in those around them without reservation because they have faith that their love will be returned.
In today’s scriptures we see what time, experience, and knowledge can do to a person. How one quickly loses that blind faith and becomes skeptical, guarded against others’ motives, and inspired by earthly things that only lead to disappointment and death. We often outsmart ourselves.
In Exodus, the Jewish people, who were oppressed for over 400 years as slaves of Egypt, and witnessed God’s hand working through Moses in the plagues against Pharaoh, becoming free people and the parting of the Red Sea, quickly turn from belief in God to skepticism of Him because Moses took too long on the mountain to receive the Ten Commandments. How quickly they forgot who it was that brought them their freedom. How fast their knowledge and experience betrayed them by convincing themselves that it must have been something else, a golden calf perhaps, that saved them. How sad.
Jesus, in His time too, after all the awesome wonders and miracles He worked in plain view of the people, was rejected as just another man spouting unbelievable things and breaking the law of the Sabbath. The Jews’ knowledge, understanding, and experience lead them to believe that the law was their God, not Jesus who was sent by God.
We can learn a lesson here. One that shows the difference between children and adults. That lesson is faith. Children have blind faith; adults have guarded faith. Children only need to know one thing, the love of their parents; adults, on the other hand, look with a skeptic’s eye and question the love of God.
Sometimes ignorance is bliss as we can really outsmart ourselves and find our faith in God and our neighbor stained with earthly experiences.
True faith is one that knows the truth without seeing it and does not let it become stale and water downed by time, knowledge, and experience. God asks us to be like children and not overthink His love for us.
So, live each day as a child does, knowing that their parents will be there at the end of the day to hug and love them. God wants us to be like children for a reason, so we do not worry, overthink things, dilute our faith with worldly experiences, and that we live in the moment, helping others find that same faith so we all might be with Him in heaven for eternity.