prayers (1)

 like youngsters

If we knew how to listen to God, we would hear him speaking to us. For God does speak. He speaks in his Gospels. He also speaks through life – that new gospel to which we ourselves add a page each day. But we are rarely open to God’s message, because our faith is too weak and our life too earthbound. To help us listen, at the beginning of our new intimacy with Christ, let us imagine what he would say if he himself interpreted his Gospels for the men of our day.

“They brought children for him to touch; and the disciples scolded them for it. But when Jesus saw this he was indignant, and said to them; ‘Let the children come to me; do not try to stop them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” (Mark 10:13-15)

God says: I like youngsters. I want people to be like them. I don;t like old people unless they are still children. I want only children in my Kingdom; this has been decreed from the beginning of time. Youngsters – twisted, humped, wrinkled, white-bearded – all kinds of youngsters, but youngsters. There is no changing it; it has been decided. There is room for no one else.

I like little children because my image has not yet been defiled in them. They have not botched my likeness; they are new, pure, without a blot, without a smear. So, when I gently lean over them, I recognize myself in them.

I like them because they are still growing. They are on the road, they are on their way. But with grown-ups there is nothing to expect any more. They will no longer grow, no longer improve. They have come to a full stop.

It is disastrous – grown-ups thinking they have arrived.

I like youngsters because they are still struggling, because they are still sinning. Not because they sin, you understand, but because they know that they sin, and they say so, and they try not to sin an more. But I don’t like grown-ups. They never harm anyone; they have nothing to reproach themselves for. I can’t forgive them; I have nothing to forgive. It is a pity, it is indeed a pity, because it is not true.

But above all I like youngsters because of the look in their eyes. In their eyes I can read their age. In my heaven, there will be only five-year-old eyes, for I know of nothing more beautiful than the pure eyes of a child. It is not surprising, for I live in children, and it is I who look out through their eyes. When pure eyes meet yours, it is I who smile at you through the flesh. But on the other hand, I know of nothing sadder than lifeless eyes in the face of a child. The windows are open, but the house is empty. Two eyes are there, but no light. And saddened, I stand at the door, and wait in the cold and knock. I am eager to get in. And he, the child, is alone. He gets stout, he hardens, he dries up, he gets old. Poor old fellow!

Alleluia! Alleluia! Open, all of you, little men! It is I, your God, the Eternal, risen from the dead, coming to bring back to life the child in you. Hurry! Now is the time I am ready to give you again the beautiful face of a child, the beautiful eyes of a child. For I love youngsters, and I want everyone to be like them.

Prayers by Michael Quoist (Sheed & Word, Inc., 1963); pp.3-5