As we mature, we become more independent from our parents. But spiritual maturity is the opposite–it means becoming more dependent on God. This is at the heart of the childlike faith commended in Scripture.
Our collect for today’s feast of St. Francis of Assisi encapsulates this ideal:
O GOD, who dost ever delight to reveal thyself to the childlike and lowly of heart: grant that, following the example of blessed Francis, and aided by his prayers; we may count the wisdom of this world as foolishness and know only Jesus Christ and him crucified … Amen.
This has been a theme all week.
- Monday was the feast of St. Therese of the Child Jesus–a popular saint who made spiritual childhood her main goal.
- Tuesday was a Mass for guardian angels, which Jesus particularly associates with children (Mt 18:10), and
- Today we celebrate the childlike faith of St. Francis.
Childhood through trial’s good
Yet Masses all week have also included readings from the Book of Job, and the depiction of his trials seemed like a contrast to the feast-day emphases. The sisters at Mount de Sales omitted the reading about how, near despair, Job wished he wasn’t born (they chose instead a votive reading for the day).
Or is it not a contrast? The book of Job is about how a holy man became even holier. How? By becoming even more dependent on God. This happened through trial, when he found himself at the end of his own resources. That’s when he learned to trust in God more deeply–like a child.
This is a model for us.
From trial’s night to childlike
Don’t get me wrong–we’re not called to desire trials. We’re still called to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread,” and “Deliver us from evil.” But when trials do come, James says, “count it all joy … when you meet trials of various kinds” (James 1:2-4).
St. Therese matured as she struggled through tuberculosis and became more dependent on God’s grace. The same can be said for St. Francis, who was called to go beyond his own resources to rebuild God’s church. He was able to do so through a childlike dependence on the One who called him.
Let’s cultivate that dependence now, whether in the midst of trial or not, so that we can grow in the life of faith.