Jesus said, Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:3).
I took my degree in Theology when I went to college. Among the many different classes to learn about faith were Christology, Church history, Pauline literature, Old Testament studies, Christian marriage, and on and on. All of these classes were geared toward us better understanding our faith and coming closer to Christ. I had only four years of study, but some people spend their whole adult lives studying Christian doctrine. My children are so young that they are just beginning their study of the faith. Many of their religion lessons have come from a simple, yet profound Franciscan approach. The messages are clear and explained simply, in a way that even I enjoy.
Sometimes when I’m in the kitchen cooking dinner, I find myself listening to the words the children have received, and I take them to heart: Prayer is a way to talk to your best friend, the one who knows you better than anyone. Or, Christ loved us so much that he died for us. There is much truth and simplicity in these words, and they are such good reminders to me about what is important. The fact is that, although I am a grown woman and a mother, it is still true that Jesus loves me and wants me to talk to him because he is my best friend.
The specifics of how this friendship with Jesus actually develops are not really the pivotal point. If we get so caught up in only conceptual theology that we forget this vital element of love and friendship with Christ, we will miss out. My children’s basic understanding of the faith and their simplicity is beautiful. Jesus said in Matthew 19, “Let the children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of Heaven.” Jesus truly says a lot to us in this verse about how we are meant to live. I am very grateful for my theology degree which taught me so much, but as far as growing in my faith and my relationship with Christ, I think my children are daily showing me a vital way of seeing the personal treasure found in the theology of the Church.
Mary, isn’t it paradoxically amazing?! No matter how old, or how far we have come, we must always remember to “be the child” seeing the basic truths anew each day and believing the goodness Jesus with our whole hearts. Thank you for this reflection!