Over and over again, we hear to become closer to God, to believe more fully in God, we must believe with a childlike wonder, childlike faith. Matthew 8:13 says:
“Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
I never really understood this, and perhaps I still don’t, but something Pope Francis said in a relatively recent interview made me think of this phrase and think about it from a bit of a different angle. And I kind of like it.
Personally, I didn’t quite catch this when I first read the full interview. It was when I read this response to the interview that I understood the enormity of what Pope Francis was saying. Yes, I understood he wasn’t saying abortion, contraception and homosexuality weren’t actually considered sins. That I understood. But I didn’t quite catch what he was saying about the church until I read this:
The Church’s moral teachings flow from the Gospel. The Church’s moral teachings are a consequence, not the cause, of Christian faith. They rooted in Him and lead us back to Him. The moral teachings of the Church are important precisely because (and ONLY because!) they are rooted in the Truth about man, revealed in Jesus Christ, Son of the Father, who sends His Holy Spirit upon His bride the Church.
These things (abortion, contraception, homosexuality, etc.) are important because they go against the Truth that is revealed in Jesus Christ. But if people – Christians, Catholics, anyone in general – do not have the strong foundation and framework to understand this, they cannot fully reason as to why these things are sins. As Stephen White says in the aforementioned Catholic Vote article, while our Catholic faith is guided by rules and ideals, that is not where our faith begins. Our faith begins with a love of Jesus Christ and a desire to live a Christ-like life. This is the ultimate way to show our love for our Savior. We are all sinners, we all make mistakes, but if our focus is on living a life similar to that of Jesus, we are on the right path.
So what does this have to do with childlike wonder? Maybe not much. But for me, when I read Mr. White’s article, that was the first thing I thought of. And for the first time, the idea made sense. I had always viewed it as a statement of ignorant, blind faith, something I’ve always struggled with. But in reality, I think it is more to emphasize that love for all is what our lives should be based upon. Not rules and regulations, not monetary or career success, not bogged down by the worries of adult-life, not judging others, not any other thing. Just love. A profound, deep, self-giving love for the greater good. If we can all step back and refocus our lives on self-giving love for ourselves, our families and our neighbors, then we are living life with the simplicity and grace of a child. I think that is what matters.