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October 2, 2012

A Reflection on St. Therese of Lisieux

St. Therese of Lisieux
Readings used: Isaiah 66:10-14; Psalm 131:1-3; Matthew 18:1-4

Today we celebrate the feast day of St. Therese of Liseux. She was born in 1873 in France and lived for only 24 years. She was known, mostly through her autobiography in The Story of a Soul, for her simplicity and absolute trust in the love of God. Our readings today reflect her simplicity. Isaiah and the Psalms speak of one finding comfort in Jerusalem, the source and center of Jewish faith and life, as a child finds comfort in the chest of a mother.

Matthew speaks of one who humbles himself before God and becomes like a little child. This person, says Jesus, is the one who will be the greatest in the kingdom of God. Not only that, but unless we become like children, we will not enter the kingdom.

So what does it really mean to become children before God, and why would child-likeness be important? Children certainly have many bad qualities. They can be temperamental, loud, obnoxious and selfish. It takes quite a bit of training for a parent to bring their child to the place where they think of others before themselves. Would Jesus really be encouraging us in our own perhaps natural and innate desires of selfishness?
Of course, that is not the case. Children have many virtues as well. Children can be innocent and inquisitive and loving. They also have another very important characteristic that Jesus was touching on. That is their nature of absolute and abiding trust in their father or mother. This trust is usually infinite. There is nothing that a good parent can be seen as doing wrong in the eyes of a child. Nor is there any concern for everyday needs, despite whatever the actual circumstances may be.

n my own family, when I was growing up, we lived quite often paycheck to paycheck. However, we as children never really ever knew it. We did not experience hardship, even though our parents did. We did not worry about where our food or clothing would come from. We just knew that our parents would take care of us. And they always did.And so, what this child-like faith means is that we place our infinite trust in God. But why is that important? Because when I show that I do not trust you, what I am really saying is I don’t love you. If you do not have trust in someone, you are really showing that you do not believe that that person has your best interest in mind. There is a possibility that they will harm you. You have to have your defenses up JUST IN CASE they happen to let you down. This is not the faith of a child, nor the faith that God desires from us. God desires an infinite faith in Him, one that truly believes that God has our best interest in mind, and will not harm us. This trust means that we can put all worry and anxiety away, and just do what pleases our Father most: loving God and loving each other. God, who is greater and better than the best worldly parent, will take care of the rest.

by Seminarian Jonathan Hill

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