Yesterday I inadvertently discovered what is sure to become a new favorite hobby of mine: armchair apologetics. It happened while I was listening to an episode of the excellent radio show Catholic Answers Live (episode #7538). A listener called in with this question: “How do you balance a well-formed conscience with being child-like?”. Guest Patrick Madrid (Surprised By Truth) gave his answer, the essence of which was having a “child-like innocence”.
As a budding apologist, I’m in no position to reject Patrick Madrid’s response. However, I had an immediate awareness of what that passage (Mt 18:3) means to me and so I would like to give you my interpretation.
It has only been recently that I’ve come to know Jesus. There are a couple of unintended but most welcome effects of my friendship with Him. First, the things I thought were important no longer are. (That reminds me, I need to disable some programming on the DVR. “The Blacklist” just isn’t important to me anymore.) The end result is that I don’t feel as pressed for time as I used to.
The most important effect by far is the absence of worry. This is especially surprising because I know people who are “worriers” by nature. I’ve never considered myself to be one of them. It’s only through it’s absence that I’m aware that it was ever there.
People who’ve not yet struck up that close friendship with Jesus may believe themselves to be without worry, but I think most people do have a certain undertow which becomes noticeable only once it is gone.
As a result of my friendship with Jesus, I’ve developed my own personal daily liturgy. I stop to pray at various times throughout the day, asking His favor and giving Him thanks. I say this prayer when starting each workday:
Lord, I thank you for steady employment.
Help me to stay focused today; to discern which tasks are more important than others and to do my earnest best all the day long.
Give me the confidence to know that it is ultimately You who provides for my family and that You will ALWAYS provide for us.
With trust in You, there is no need for anxiety or stress over unreasonable demands.
Should this employment end, I trust in You to send new employment my way.
In Jesus’ name, Amen
In the rough and tumble world of business it is easy to let looming deadlines and stress get to you. This prayer helps keep me focused on the only reality that counts, Jesus.
Have you ever looked at your own children or the children of others when they are young, say four or five years old and caught yourself longing for the days when there was no stress, no pressure; simply going through life holding on to an outstretched hand? Do you long for resting peacefully in the arms of the one that loves you more than anything?
To return to the question from the caller on Catholic Answers Live, my opinion is that’s what Jesus is saying in Mt 18:3. It has nothing to do with “innocence” per se, but rather “trust”. Only when we completely surrender to Jesus and strike up that close friendship are we freed from the chains of worry about the future. It is then that we become like a little child being led by the hand through a crowded mall or zoo or church; no worries, completely trusting.
In summary, it is not that we must jettison our adult intellect and well-formed conscience, but rather our attachment to worry and the concerns of this world. We must let Jesus take us by the hand and guide us through our days and years. He loves us more than anything. He only asks that we love Him in return. When we fully embrace His invitation to friendship, we experience the freedom and inner peace of a little child. That’s the key to the Kingdom of Heaven.