CHILDREN / CHILDLIKE / CHILDREN OF GOD
Children belong to God, and He entrusts them to parents to bring them up as God’s own. So, when parents and others take care of children they are serving for God. Those who support or take care of children who orphans, sick, or disabled, they are also doing the service of God.
Children have characteristics different from the adults. They are innocent, humble, content with little things, not anxious about the future, when helpless or in doubt they turn to their parents believing that the parents are omniscient and omnipotent, they trust their parents, exchange love with their parents, they do what the parents tell them, they will not keep up rivalry for long, they are open for new ideologies, and they are not position seeking.
CHILDREN AND JESUS
Jesus loved and cared for children. He cured sick children including the cure of an official’s son in Galilee (Jn 4:46-54) and healing a child with epilepsy (Mt 17:14-16). Jesus even raised the dead children like a widow’s only son in Nain (Lk 7: 11-17) and Jairus’ twelve-year-old daughter (Lk 8:40-56).
The adult Christians have to keep up these qualities of children in their relationship with God, who is a parent to them. When Jesus said to the disciples that they have to turn or convert and become like children, he meant that they have to change their life of sinfulness to a life of innocence and obedience according to the parental guidance of God.
Jesus did not select his apostles from the elite Jews because they were not like God’s children. He told about them to the crowds and his disciples: “The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice” (Mt 23:1-3). Since they were unwilling to comply with the genuine teaching of Jesus, he selected those who had the heart and mind of children.
Jesus fulfilled what God had promised through Prophet Ezekiel: “I will sprinkle clean water over you to make you clean; from all your impurities and from all your idols I will cleanse you. I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my spirit within you so that you walk in my statutes, observe my ordinances, and keep them.” (Ezek 36:25-27).
Who are the childlike?
1. They can be adults who deserve help from others for their necessities like hungry, thirsty, a stranger, naked, ill, or prisoner (Mt 25:35-36) regardless of whether they came to that stage because of their fault or not.
2. People born or turned out in a later stage with physical or mental disabilities can be childlike. For example: elderly, blind, deaf and mute, lame, mentally ill, physically or mentally disabled, distressed with crisis in life, or depressed can be childlike.
3. The childlike can also be a disciple of Jesus who gave up everything for the church and is involved in the missionary work of Jesus.
CHILDREN OF GOD
The Israelites considered themselves as the children of God (Deut 14:1). They distinguished themselves as distinct from the Gentiles who did not worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. So, the Israelites believed that the inheritance in the kingdom of God would be only for them.
The Christians become children of God through baptism. In the Lord’s prayer, Jesus taught us to start the prayer calling God, Father. “Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission” (CCC-1213). According to Paul, “through faith you are all children of God in Christ Jesus. … And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendant, heirs according to the promise” (Gal 3:26-29). “As proof that you are children, God sent the spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying out, ‘Abba, Father’ So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God” (Gal 4:6-7).
Those Israelites who rejected Jesus lost their divine sonship and the Gentiles who accepted Jesus became children of God.
Through baptism, we have the privilege to call God, Father. It also involves our responsibility to behave like children to God. Let us also serve God by caring for the childlike people in the society.