Being ‘childlike’

I’m sharing Saturday’s Gospel reading, and Bishop Robert Barron’s reflection on it, because it’s not only a beautiful reflection on what Christ means when he tells us to be “childlike,” but it’s also a good way to return to C.S. Lewis’s trilemma to figure out who Christ is:

Bishop Robert Barron, Daily Gospel Reflections
Luke 10:17-24

Friends, in today’s Gospel Jesus calls his disciples and us “childlike”: “Although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike”. How so? Children don’t know how to dissemble, how to be one way and act another. “Kids say the darndest things,” because they don’t know how to hide the truth of their reactions.

In this, they are like stars or flowers or animals, things that are what they are, unambiguously. The challenge of the spiritual life is to realize what God wants us to be and thereby come to the same simplicity and directness in our existence. To find out what is in line with the deepest grain of our being.

Let me put this another way: children haven’t yet learned how to look at themselves. Why can a child immerse himself so eagerly and thoroughly in what he is doing? Because he can lose himself; because he is not looking at himself, conscious of the reactions, expectations, and approval of those around him. The best moments in life occur when we lose the ego, lose ourselves in the world and just are as God wants us to be.

Children “don’t know how to hide the truth of their reactions …are like stars or flowers or animals, things that are what they are. … The best moments in life occur when we lose the ego…”

Luke’s Gospel is great for returning to C.S. Lewis’s trilemma, because it provides insight into Christ that makes it impossible to consider him merely a “great moral teacher” or some sort of spiritual philosopher. Christ tells his disciples, “I have given you the power ‘to tread upon serpents’ and scorpions and upon the full force of the enemy.” Christ instructs his disciples to “rejoice because your names are written in heaven.” And most startlingly, he literally shares that “I have observed Satan fall like lightning from the sky.”

“Christ either deceived mankind by conscious fraud, or He was Himself deluded and self-deceived, or He was Divine. There is no getting out of this trilemma…”

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