Let us Lectio: Like a child before God
Memorial of Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus, virgin and doctor of the Church, October 1, 2020
Steps to Lectio Divina
Start by using these steps to reflect on the Scripture verse. Then read Callie's meditation slowly.
Lectio: Having asked for the grace to hear God's word, read the passage twice.
Meditatio: During the second reading, pause whenever so moved and reflect on a word, a sentence, or an image that strikes you.
Oratio: Speak directly to God, and open your reflection to Him.
Contemplatio: Listen contemplatively for any response God might choose to make. Remember that God responds to us at times with loving silence.
From the Gospel for October 1, 2020, Memorial of St. Therese of the Child Jesus (Matthew 18:1-4)
At that time the disciples approached Jesus and said, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.
Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.
Today’s choice of Gospel readings should be no surprise for someone who knows even a little about St. Therese of Lisieux. In addition to responding to the call to sainthood very early in her life, she had a deep devotion to the Child Jesus and encouraged a “child-like” approach to God in all things.
However, in reading her autobiography, Story of a Soul, one finds that even though she was a good child, she very much still had some rough edges that needed to be smoothed and refined. She was impatient, short tempered, and a bit self-centered. In short, she was “childish” and in need of maturity in her relation to herself, her neighbors, and the Lord.
Scripture says repeatedly that we should “become like a child.” When we are baptized, we are adopted and become children of God. Baptism both makes possible and calls us to fulfill that dignity of being His sons and daughters. In Baptism we are invited to grow, for the rest of our lives, into an understanding of what it means to be His child.
Again, it says that we should be “like a child,” indicating that we should imitate children. In ancient cultures, children were considered some of the lowest in their society. They were subject to everyone else’s authority. They were certainly not someone to follow. In fact, their job was to learn from the adults and be directed by them. As disciples, we are challenged to consider what characteristics of children should be emulated.
To approach God “like a child” rather than in a “childish” way is to accept Him as He is. To pray “like a child” means to pray with a heart ready to love, ready to encounter God, and ready to respond. St. Therese of Lisieux learned that to mature in the faith would mean putting away “childish things” (1 Cor 13:11) and receiving all that God would choose to give her in love. Thus, this saint who called herself the “littlest of all the saints” is a faithful older sister who wishes only the best for us.
How beautiful it is that God took this “childish” faith and matured it into something so wonderful. May we follow her example and the knowledge that maturing in our relationship with God means to mature into the dignity and immense capacity of the love of an innocent child before the Heavenly Father, a Father who is worthy of all trust and love.
Callie Nowlin, MTS, is a regular contributor to the North Texas Catholic.
Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.