A HAPPY CHILD
F. X. Nguyen Van Thuan
The Road of Hope
The condition of entry into heaven: ‘Become like children’ (Matthew 18:3)
718. While an orphan who has everything can be a happy person, despite his riches he can never know the happiness enjoyed by a child who has parents. Yet, a poor child, provided he has loving parents, can be a happy person in spite of his poverty. No matter who or what you are, do you realize that you are the happiest of children because you are a child of God the Father and have the Virgin Mary for your mother?
719. Adults often tend to make rather complicated self-introductions which state their entire personal histories. A little child, in contrast, has a very simple method: it declares ‘I am the child of Mr. and Mrs. So-and-so and we live at such-and-such a place.’ Be proud of your ability to identify yourself easily in the manner of the little child: ‘I am a child of God and a child of Mary.’
720. A little child once went to a shop to buy something for its mother, only to find the store was already closed. It knocked and knocked on the door until the shopkeeper finally opened it to scold whoever was causing the disturbance. However, when he saw the small child, so innocent and so simple, standing there, he could not find his angry words. Rather, full of smiles, he embraced the child, asking, ‘You poor little thing, what are you doing out at this hour?’ The little child eventually got what he wanted. In your prayer, be like that little child.
721. A child does not need to know whether its parents are rich or poor, it only knows that it has a mother and father and that is enough to satisfy it. Even if a bomb drops on its house, while the child may experience some danger or suffering, it will still fall asleep peacefully if its parents are there to comfort it. The child dwells perpetually secure in the belief of the all-powerful love of its parents. Your trust in God’s all-powerful love must be likewise.
722. No matter how many times a child makes the same mistake, its parents will still love it because they know it means no harm. Although they keep trying to do their best, things will still occasionally go wrong for children. But this does not matter; only their good will is of consequence. Likewise, God only asks for our good intentions. His grace will do the rest.
723. When you pray, do not worry about how you will go about asking God for what you want. Just keep your prayers simple and sincere like the requests made by a small child to its parents. Such a child knows that it is loved by its parents and will freely thrust its hand into its father’s pocket or look into its mother’s handbag searching for the treat it knows is there.
724. You are tired, you cannot concentrate, you feel discouraged. Never mind. So long as you love God, that is sufficient. After expending all of its energies at play, a tired child will cuddle in the arms of its parents and rest secure.
725. When a child accidentally breaks some object around the house, it does not attempt to avoid its parents or to act deceitfully. On the contrary, it runs crying to its parents to confess its wrong-doing. In turn, its parents, rather than mourn the loss of the object, will embrace the child to comfort it and soothe its worry. They value their child more than any material possessions they may have lost. In just the same way, you should be humble and sincere before God our Father, trusting in his understanding.
726. The parents ask their child for a sweet, but it withdraws and refuses to give them any. But when they insist, it begins to feel sorry and gradually opens its hand. The parents are overjoyed and give the child even more sweets because they did not really want its sweets originally, but to teach it to conquer its selfishness. God our Father likewise rejoices in our little sacrifices.
727. The spiritual life of a child of God is neither weak nor passive. Rather, it follows a spiritual road which is easy amid difficulties, simple in complexities, gentle but determined, powerful in its weakness, and wise in its foolishness.
728. The heart of a little child knows neither hatred nor indignation. It will cry when it is chastised by its parents, but it will soon enough forget this discomfiture and will even doze off in those very arms which have just chastised it. Learn from this example and put aside all your anger and animosity. Dwell in the arms of your heavenly Father and you will always be happy.
729. Have no fear about your inabilities, because it is the grace of God which will make a saint of you. Joyfully accept his will, being always prepared to follow lovingly wherever he leads you. Be fearless like the child who would be willing to go anywhere, even to the moon, provided its parents went with it.
730. When we speak of having the heart of a child, we mean neither a childish nor a naive heart. What we mean is having a love that is unlimited in its trust of our heavenly Father, willing to do everything that is asked of us with complete confidence. Be courageous and steadfast in a manner worthy of a child of God and of Mary.
731. Little children do not keep things for themselves, but rather hand everything over to their parents to keep and carry. Likewise, hand over everything in trust to God and to Mary and you will always be happy and secure.
732. Some of your greatest deeds may not amount to as worthy an offering to almighty God as do some of your simplest tasks. This is because God sees your heart and loves you in a way similar to the love of parents who rejoice more over the first steps of their child than over the races it may run later in life.
733. Your strength on this Road of Hope comes from Jesus in the Sacrament and from Mary.
734. Time belongs to God, all creation is his, he is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. God is omnipotent and Lord of all: he takes care of the birds of the air, the fish of the sea, and the creatures of the land and the flowers of the field. Despite this, he counts every hair on your head because he is concerned only with love. Peace and happiness to the humble, childlike soul which longs for this eternal love!
735. Our conception of the way to heaven is often complicated and difficult. But Jesus laid down only one condition: ‘Truly I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven’ (Matthew 18:3).
736. Confide everything into God’s hands and then stop being afraid. There is nothing hard about this! Although you may not know where he is leading you (and you can be sure that there will be surprises along the way) it is enough that you should believe that God is your Father.