Becoming Like Children

The two were best-selling authors, but their books could not have been more different. Rick Warren wrote The Purpose-Driven Life about Christian discipleship; Sam Harris’ work, The End of Faith, advances atheism. When they met to debate, Warren was direct: “You’re more spiritual than you think,” he insisted to Harris. “You just don’t want a God telling you what to do.”

But isn’t the same true for many of us who find ourselves at Mass on Sunday? Unlike Sam Harris, we believe in God. But that doesn’t mean we want God telling us what to do. We hesitate to trust; we assume we know what’s best; we struggle to be in control; we prefer to do things our way.

To be a Christian, however, is not to be independent. It’s to be dependent upon the Lord, just as a child is dependent upon parents. This is what Jesus meant in today’s gospel when he insisted that we need to become like children to enter God’s kingdom. Put very simply, to be in God’s kingdom is to accept that God is king, and surrender ourselves in faith and obedience.

The world may dismiss this as weakness- and in a sense they’d be right! But we know that accepting our weakness is the beginning of wisdom. “No one needs God more than I do,” explained Mother Teresa, “because I am so weak. I rely on him twenty-four hours a day.”

Readings for today’s Mass: