“Child-like Faith?”, by Miranda Fitzpatrick, Fiat Ventures

Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

At different stages of life, we focus on different things. Not many kindergarteners are salty about their property taxes having gone up. Not many grandparents are concerned with whether or not their jeans are in style. Sometimes when we look at the readings for the coming Sunday, depending on our stage of life we tend to tune out passages we think have nothing to do with us. Let’s say you’re in high school and you’re not exactly about to propose to your girlfriend yet – some of these passages about marriage might seem unimportant until later in life – and aiming for childlike dependence may seem the opposite of what you’re trying to do. But let’s take a look…

The first reading is about the creation of man and woman. It is a beautiful story of how God said that it is not good for man to be alone, but none of the creatures of the earth could meet his needs as a partner. It wasn’t until God created woman from the rib of Adam that man finally had an equal match. Someone who “is bone of [his] bones, and flesh of [his] flesh.” In the Gospel we hear a continuation of this message and about the teaching of marriage.

The Pharisees are constantly trying to trick Jesus, posing questions to him where in their mind no matter how he answers, they’ll be able to at least discredit him with some of his followers and at best put an end to all of this nonsense about him being the Messiah. They ask Jesus if it is “lawful for a husband to divorce his wife?” He tells the Pharisees that Moses only permitted that because the Israelites were hard of heart. Jesus explains “from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female” and that in marriage “the two shall become one flesh. So, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate.” That might bring to mind a wedding scene from a sappy rom com, where a super old guy in a vaguely priestly looking outfit quotes that line about “what God has joined together…” But it’s of course much more profound than a quotable line from a movie. In high school you might be more concerned about grades and sports teams and academic clubs, tangled in drama in friendship groups and fleeting couples – marriage and divorce are probably not in the forefront of your mind, unless your family or someone close to you is going through a divorce, or picking out napkin colors for their wedding reception. But as you look ahead in life to where God is calling you, it’s important to know His plan for marriage, and what kind of commitment you’re really making when you say “I do.”

The other message Jesus gives in this passage is about the innocence of children. He gets frustrated even with his own disciples because they are rebuking families for trying to bring their children to Jesus. But Jesus tells them, stop! “Let the children come to me!” He teaches that “whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.” Jesus, again, remember He is God, takes His time to embrace and bless the children. He cares for and values them deeply. He tells us that each of us need to be more child-like. To be childlike is to be innocent, to be dependent. We cannot get to Heaven on our own accord. We need the saving acts of Jesus, we need the Church, we need the Sacraments – we need to depend on all these things for our salvation. For those of us in high school learning to drive, make our own meals, and becoming self-sufficient in so many ways, it is important to remember to remain childlike and dependent in our relationship with God. It’s still true for those who are a little further along in life too; navigating paying the mortgage, juggling kids’ schedules, perhaps even taking care of older parents who are becoming more child-like and dependent in their own way.

So, this week, think of a way that you can be more dependent on God and place your trust in him. Whether it’s a big life decision or a day-to-day situation, invite God into it. As it says in Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”

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