Childlike Wisdom

This childlike awe and wonder is the true source of our deepest happiness.

Jesus sent 72 of his disciples out to evangelize in his name and on their return they were filled with awe and said, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us because of your name” (Lk. 10:17). What is going on here? The disciples are filled with wonder at the things they were able to do, in the name of Jesus. This Lukan account is seen as symbolic of the fall of Satan, which Jesus refers to when he says, “I have observed Satan fall like lightning from the sky. Behold, I have given you the power to tread on serpents…Nevertheless, do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (vs. 18-20).

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Immediately after this, 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” (v. 21). This is a very important message. What does it mean to be childlike? Why is this wisdom contrary to the “wisdom” of the world?

Unlike our present age that hails the solitary self as the ultimate arbiter, the ultimate judge of all things, Jesus hails those who “see,” or recognize in their powerlessness, that everything is a gift from God. He says to the 72 disciples, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For 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” (vs. 23-24). It is childlike wisdom to recognize that all that is good, true, and beautiful, done in the name of Jesus, is accomplished through God’s grace.

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We may be tempted to cry out at this, “But are we nothing then?” On the contrary, we are to remember the words of the psalmist, “What is man that you are mindful of him? You have made him little less than the angels; You have crowned him with glory and honor” (Ps. 8:5-6). And, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you, and called you by your name. You are mine. Since you became honorable in my eyes, you are glorious. I have loved you” (Is 43:1,4). To “see” this truth, that despite our weakness, we are called by Jesus to love and to sacrifice and to serve as he did, is a matter of childlike wisdom.

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It is childlike wisdom to pray to our loving Father, then, “Lord, show me the exercises designed for feeble souls. I am one of those souls and I bless you for having revealed to the weak and the little ones what you do not always accord to the great and the strong. I am overwhelmed by your love and your mercy.” As Augustine said, “You have made [me] for yourself, O Lord, and [my] heart is restless until it rests in you [alone].” This is childlike wisdom. This childlike awe and wonder is the true source of our deepest happiness.

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