I don't have any nieces or nephews - not yet at least - but I do have a lot of friends with young children. A few weeks ago a friend's son, Leo, celebrated his First Communion. I couldn't attend, but sent a card with a small donation to his 'college fund'. His thank you note was simple:
"Thanks for the cold, hard cash. (I mean it.) Love, Leo."
Underneath, his mother added, "P.S. We miss you. (We mean it.)"
Surprised though I was, I had to laugh at his candor, and I remembered why I love kids. Talking with a child is a welcome break from the usual angling and self-conscious posturing that direct our adult interactions. Kids share effusively and without guile, a quality that seems to rarify with age. To ask a child what she thinks or feels, is to enter a world wholly other than grown-up conversation. Simplicity and candor abound! Think about a conversation you've had with a young nephew, daughter, or grandchild recently. Wasn't it easy?
Today's Gospel reading from Matthew hints that prayer with God might look like something similar:
At that time Jesus exclaimed:
"I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
for although you have hidden these things
from the wise and the learned
you have revealed them to little ones."
Prayer need not -- perhaps should not -- look like staid adult conversations. Jesus offers that we do well to speak from the heart in conversation with God, and leave aside "wise and learned" prattle for a while. As the Rumi Sufist poet put it, "Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment."
Today is the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a very important feast for the Society of Jesus and for the wider Church. When we let "heart speak to heart" (cor ad cor loquitur, a term from Augustine's Confessions) - Jesus' to ours, and ours to His -- we speak as one close friend to another. Put simply, we need not overthink, or be too grown up, in our prayer.
We need only speak as friends -- or even as a child -- with the one who says, in no uncertain terms, "Let the children come to me."
Something tells me that...He means it.
+Ss. Margaret Mary Alacoque and Claude de la Colombiere, pray for us!