Exodus 3:1-6, 9-12
Okay Jesus, you really have me confused. Just a few paragraphs back in the Gospel of Matthew you were criticizing the people of your time for acting like unresponsive children and now you are telling us that God has revealed special "things" to the childlike. What is going on, Jesus? Just how childlike am I supposed to be? (An answer to this question would be helpful, as I may get myself into some awkward social situations if I misinterpret Jesus’ words.)
The answer to this question begins to be uncovered in today’s first reading, taken from the book of Exodus. In this reading, we catch a glimpse of how the God revealed to Moses was a God who very much sympathized with the childlike. "The cry of the children of Israel has reached me," Moses writes. Was God literally referring to children under a certain age, or was God seeing in the Israelites as a whole a childlike quality? Most certainly, God was referring to the latter.
But what was this quality that God saw in the people of Israel?
IT’S ALL ABOUT VULNERABILITY!
Let’s face it: we humans hate being vulnerable, don’t we? Not only is it uncomfortable to be vulnerable, but it is often frowned upon in our society. When we begin to show signs of vulnerability, a common description of our behavior is that we are acting like…you guessed it: children. "Stop acting like a child!" "Grow up!" "Get over it!" "Suck it up!" "Stop crying; be a man!" How often in our lives – particularly when we were growing up – did we hear statements like these? Growing up as a male in today’s society, I certainly felt a good deal of this pressure from my peers. According to my peers, I was supposed to be that stereotypically confident, strong and unemotional man. Becoming "childlike" would have been idiotic. Yet, this is exactly what Jesus was calling me to be (little did I know this until quite recently in life).
There is so much beauty in the vulnerability of a child. A child is completely dependent on his or her parents for food, shelter and safety. Without parents a child could not survive in the world. Most importantly, though, a child doesn’t let pride get in the way of this vulnerability. How often does a small child become embarrassed because of their reliance on their parents? Never. But this is exactly what we do in our relationship with our heavenly Parent.
I know it sounds oxymoronic, but I’m pretty sure that Jesus is calling us to become secure with being vulnerable. We must recognize that we are nothing without our Creator, but yet we are everything because of our Creator. We must recognize that showing emotion is okay. We must recognize that relying on others is ok. We must recognize that not having the answer to a question is not shameful. And lastly, we must recognize that God cannot help but be in love with our vulnerability; it’s too beautiful.
Tony Cortese is a campus minister at the Newman Catholic Community, Sacramento State University.