St. Vincent de Paul, Priest
Zechariah 8:1-8 + Luke 9:46-50
September 27, 2021
“Whoever receives this child in My Name receives Me ….”
During Christmastide we are used to thinking of Jesus—the divine Word made Flesh—dwelling among us as an infant. But today, near the start of Autumn, Jesus counsels us to receive Him as a child. Clearly, then, spiritual childhood isn’t just for Christmas!
To receive Jesus as a child means that the one who receives Jesus becomes a child him- or herself.
Spiritual childhood is a common theme in the literature of the Catholic masters of spirituality. Of course, pondering this theme first requires a distinction between the childhood of fallen human nature and the childhood of what we might call either the “original human nature” or the “redeemed human nature”. What does this distinction mean concretely? We can picture this distinction by comparing two different images: on the one hand is a two-year-old who refuses to go to sleep; on the other is the child nursing peacefully with his mother.
In addition to what Jesus says in today’s Gospel passage, we can use a Scriptural image to help us picture the spiritual childhood to which the Christian is called. We consider Calvary, and Jesus entrusting Mary and the Beloved Disciple to each other’s care. This Beloved Disciple, child of Mary, is our icon for spiritual childhood.