Childlike but not childish

cimagala-thumb“UNLESS you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt 18,3) “Let the children come to me. Do not prevent them, for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” (Mk 10,15)

With these words of Christ, it’s quite clear we all need to be childlike even as we grow in age and stature, and even as we accumulate already quite a significant amount of knowledge with our exposure to the world and the life in general.

Yes, children and heaven are almost synonymous to each other. No wonder we feel like we are in heaven every time we see children around. Every time a baby is born, we are very happy because we somehow know that he just did not come out of his mother’s womb, but rather from the very hands of God who created him before the parents procreated him.


In spite of the many limitations of children, what makes them always desirable is their pure, innocent heart, incapable of malice, ambition, pride and haughtiness. They are a source of many other good things.

Their heart is always trusting in the Lord always, just like a little kid is always confident with his father. Faith and hope easily grow and acquire strength when nurtured in a child’s heart. It’s this attitude that leads them to go on and move on no matter what, for life to them could only be an adventure of discoveries.

It’s this kind of heart that makes them transparent, sincere and simple, not afraid to be known as they truly are. They may still lack the subtlety of prudence and discretion, and be prone to spontaneity, but they hardly mind these deficiencies.

They are only interested in doing what they think is good and enjoyable. Suggestions and corrections do not humiliate them. Rather, they welcome these suggestions and corrections.

Children are humble, teachable, flexible and docile. You can tell them anything, and they always tend to believe and obey. Attainments, achievements and successes do not spoil them. Neither do difficulties, temptations and failures crush them and plunge them to sadness or bitterness.

They are easy to motivate, to be consoled, to be optimistic. Falls and mistakes are easily forgotten. They only leave a mark that becomes a source of precious lessons for them to learn. They are quick to heal when wounded.

In short, children are predisposed to see things as they are, whether they are self-evident natural truths or highly mysterious supernatural realities. What they don’t yet understand, they simply accept and believe, relying simply on the recommendation of parents and elders.

Children somehow capture the spirit of the beatitudes, for they are poor in spirit, they are meek, they are easily comforted when some mourning takes place, they long for what is good and right, they easily forgive, they are pure of heart, they generate peace, and persecutions, insults and the like have no effect on them.

To remain childlike is a necessity to all of us as we cruise through life gaining and acquiring more knowledge and skills. Otherwise, we would have no other alternative but to get spoiled, and to forget where we come from and where we are supposed to go to. This is when we start to complicate our lives.

We just have to make sure that to be childlike does not become to be childish. A passage from the first letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians can serve as a very relevant reminder to all of us: “Do not become children in sense. But in malice be children, and in sense be perfect.” (14,20)

And more directly, St. Paul said: “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child. But when I became a man, I put away childish things.” (1 Cor 13,11)

Yes, indeed! We have to be childlike in spirit, but not childish in our human ways. As Christ himself said, we have to be innocent like doves, but clever as serpents. We have to learn to put these seemingly contrasting qualities together.

Obviously, this combination can only be lived in Christ, who said “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one goes to the Father except through me.” This is something we have to remember always. Only in Christ, and Christ on the Cross, is this blend of qualities possible.

We have to be wary of our tendency to fall into the childish ways of complacency, on the one hand, and self-righteousness and bitter zeal, on the other. (By Fr. Roy Cimagala)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *