“The baby shall play by the cobra’s den,
and the child lay his hand on the adder’s lair.” Isaiah 11:8
Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said,
“I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
for although you have hidden these things
from the wise and the learned
you have revealed them to the childlike.” Luke 10:21
These readings (from Tuesday of the First Week of Advent) were the topic of our Bible Study on Monday night. I had brought Evie with me to MC, and she was having a great time, despite the lateness of the hour and not feeling too well. She is such a social butterfly. I don’t know where she gets that from.
But when we started talking about that verse from Luke, Evie began babbling up a storm. Suddenly she had an awful lot to contribute to the discussion. We joked that she was “rejoicing in the Spirit,” and wondered what kind of things she could see in the spiritual realm that we cannot see.
I wonder that continually, as a matter of fact. I remember the first time I took Evie to Holy Hour when she was a couple of months old. Holy Cross Parish in North Tacoma has Perpetual Adoration and we had to drop Kathleen off somewhere up there for some kind of meeting. Evie was asleep when I brought her into the chapel in her carseat, but she soon woke up. So I took her out of the carseat and set her on my lap, and the very first thing she did was look directly at the exposed Host in the monstrance and laugh and open her mouth in the biggest, widest, gummiest grin ever. It was the same smile that she uses when she recognizes people she knows, or flirts with the old folks at church.
Of course the scientist in me posits all the possible explanations it can think of, spiritual and non-spiritual, e.g. she enjoyed the shinyness of the monstrance, she was happy to be out of the carseat and just happened to look in that direction, she was glad to be picked up by Daddy, she is seeing some faint manifestation of the spiritual reality of the Real Presence.
I don’t know what the fact of the matter is. I do take Jesus’ words quite literally, that God reveals things to little ones that He does not reveal to the wise and learned. Perhaps our urge to clarify and quantify precisely what was revealed is part of the reason for that. It is a response that would occur only to a “wise” and “learned” person, but a child would simply accept and enjoy.
Also, a wise and learned person is always in danger of thinking that he has discovered the insights rather than received them undeservingly. This is a spiritually deadly error, and in such a case God may very well withhold insights simply to protect the person from that error of pride. Jesus certainly seems to take some caution against this error in His disciples, for in the very next paragraph He turns to His apostles and says, “I say to you, many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.”
It is as if to say, “You all have received some astounding revelations. Don’t take them for granted, and remember that the reason you received them is not your greatness or learning, but the fact that you really are the little ones that I was speaking about previously.”
A child does not earn his insights. A child does not earn his keep. A child does not earn anything. Everything he is and has up to and including his very life is given him by pure gift from his parents (and ultimately from God). Because they have no illusions of self-sufficiency they are able to trust completely in their parents and in God. This is why the prayers of little children are very, very powerful. They ask in trust.
Whatever the case may be, as to how much Evie sees or doesn’t see, she shows me every day how my relationship with God ought to be.