I think these words of Jesus, taken from today’s Gospel, should beckon us to meditate on our most fundamental identity. At Baptism we truly became “children of God” (1 Jn. 3:1). In fact, Jesus goes so far as to say we must become like a child even to enter the kingdom of God (cf. Mt. 18:3). What does this mean?
I think of one of my sons, who as a small child would fold his hands not only to say “Amen,” but also to say “please,” “thank you,” and “certainly I would like a banana.” He not only had a rudimentary sense of his utter dependence on his mother and me, but he also trusted that we would provide for his needs. This trust would become a surge of joyful expectancy as I would proceed to care for him.
While we may be adults in the world’s eyes, we’re still children in God’s eyes. We are utterly dependent upon Him for the life of grace freely given us at Baptism. He cleans up our messes through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and He feeds us with the true bread from heaven.
And, as a Father who truly understands and desires what’s best for His children (cf. Mt. 7:9-11), He disciplines us, even though as it occurs we might not fully understand His purposes (cf. Heb. 12:7-11). And, as children who joyfully and confidently await Our Father’s blessing, we begin to see, with St. Thérèse, that prayer is “a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy” (Catechism, no. 2558).