When a pre-schooler touches something hot, he learns that it burns. If he climbs on a chair or up the stairs, he learns that he can fall down. Most children do fall and bump their little head. In child development, the child progressively learns by natural instinct how to use logic to ensure that his basic needs of life are met. Those needs consist of eating and drinking, sleeping when tired, dressing up or taking shelter to protect himself from the heat of the sun or the cold, seeking mom and dad's security, etc... The pre-schooler even learns to be safety minded by not trying to chase and catch in his hand those nice looking yellow bumble bees. It should be the other way around, the bee chasing him.
But what about when we become adults? Is our learning
process completed? Many seem to think so! Being an adult, they
consider themselves mature! But, are we really mature in the
whole of our being according to the teachings of the Bible?
True maturity does not only consist of going through the
phases of child development, getting a job and finally settling
down with a family. That is worldly maturity. Today's readings
speak of spiritual maturity that begins when the individual is
spiritually enlightened by the grace of God and the power of the
Holy Spirit. Spiritual maturity has to do with learning spiritual
virtues that will benefit the holiness of the soul.
Today's First Reading tells us that the Lord God placed
before us fire and water and He tells us to stretch out our hand
to take which ever we choose. Through the Sacrament of Baptism,
we are witnesses to each other that we have stretched out our hand
and chosen water. But how many choose the second gift of God with joy,
The spiritually mature Christian knows what God meant by those
words. Today's Second Reading refers to understanding God's wisdom,
what is sacred and hidden, what God
decreed before the ages for the glory of all. In Genesis 1:26, we
read that God said, "Let us make humankind in our image, according
to our likeness..." The last words were, "to our likeness",
referring to God's characteristics. God decreed that His children
would be in His likeness, having His Divine characteristics.
Now, consider Adam and Eve who were the perfect happy couple
in the Garden of Eden before they sinned through their
disobedience. Did they have all of God's characteristics or did
they lack some of them? Did Adam and Eve have the ability to know
what it meant to be cold or to be warm? Could they understand
shame before they sinned? Could they understand the words
forgiveness, mercy and compassion? Could they understand what it
meant to clothe the naked, feed the hungry, visit the sick and the
prisoners? Did they understand what it meant to be angry or to be
violent? Did they cry or understand sadness? Did they understand
hardship from hard work? Did they know what it feels like to lose
a loved one? Could Adam and Eve have practiced faith, hope and
charity when there was no need for it because God was present among
them and they already lived a life of perfect love?
It appears from the above list, one that is far from being
complete, that while Adam and Eve were happy in many ways, they
were deprived of many characteristics that would entitled them to
be children of God in the likeness of God Himself.
If someone here knows how Adam or Eve, before the original sin,
could have experienced shame, mercy, hardship, sadness, faith, hope
and any of the characteristics that we have today because of sin,
let him or her come up here and explain it to us! [PAUSE]
Religious truths teach us that while God did not will for sin
to enter the world, He allowed it to happen as punishment.
Religious truths also teach us that God can make good things come
out of all things, including from evil things. While we have been
cursed by sin and called to suffer physical death, we are blessed
by the knowledge and spiritual growth that we gain through the
outcome of sin.
The child who touched fire for the first time certainly became
wiser. He will not touch the fire a second time because he does
not want to get burned again. In a way, the child is blessed by
God, knowing what fire feels like. Before the original sin, Adam
and Eve could not have experienced the burning of fire. They could
not have understood how the skin blisters from being burned. They
could not have understood how fire destroys completely what it
consumes such as during forest fires.
This spiritual understanding of today's first two Readings
leads to the Third Reading. Jesus said that unless our
righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, we will
never enter the Kingdom of Heaven. The scribes were known to be a
class of citizens who copied and explained the Laws of Moses. The
Pharisees based their lives on the written law and thousands of
detailed prescriptions handed down by verbal tradition. Both were
so obsessed with the laws that they had lost the meaning of the
purpose of the law, the necessity for flexibility, common sense and
even the meaning of mercy. They lacked spiritual maturity. They
were worldly in their ways. Their hearts were cold and darkened.
Jesus brought a message of love to the world. He taught us
that love overcomes everything! Jesus overcame the world. [Jn.
16:33] He did not allow Himself to be overcomed by evil, but
overcame evil by goodness. [Rom. 12:21] The one who overcomes the
world is from God, [1 Jn. 4:4] being a child of God.
The Almighty Father is concerned for our salvation that is
obtained through the spiritual growth of our soul, in the living
of our faith in Jesus Christ. By His grace, we are given the
purifying fire of the Holy Spirit to transform us into holy
To become holy children, we must reconcile with our brothers
and sisters, first of all, being concerned with our spiritual
maturity. It is not important what the others think because we
have forgiven someone who was hurting us. What is important is that
we have obeyed God's command to love one another.
Today's readings teaches us that in our lives, our work,
in marriage and even in our social lives, we must seek out our
spiritual maturity. We must open our spiritual minds to the Holy
Spirit who searches everything, even the depths of God, so we can
know the will of God in all things. Knowing the will of God, we
must be moved to act upon it, performing the acts of goodwill that
the Holy Spirit inspires us to do.
We must stop looking at the hardships and sufferings of life
as punishments from God. Rather, we must ask ourselves, "What
does God want me to learn from this discipline?" "What virtue can
I gain from this hardship or suffering?" Can I learn patience that
Adam and Eve could not have learned? Can I learn compassion for
others who have similar hardships? Can I learn not to be
When we will have learned what God is trying to teach us,
having been disciplined by the grace of a loving Heavenly Father
and having been purified by the fire of the Holy Spirit, then my
brothers and sisters, we will begin to shine as children of God in
the likeness of God Himself.