Since becoming mobile, my one-year-old son has developed a rather terrifying habit of climbing up and diving off anything he can get a leg up on. Of course, I’m always right there to catch him before he face-plants in to the carpet, in which he repays me with heart melting laughter and a goofy smile.
My son is pure boy, so we’ve done this song and dance multiple times. Recently, however, as he and I were playing in the living room, I was stuck with a thought that had never occurred to me.
When he goes to dive head first off the couch, he doesn’t think, “What if Dad drops me?” When he makes a beeline for the stairs, he’s not considering whether or not I’ll be there to scoop him up. He trusts me, unconditionally, to catch him. Every single time.
As I marveled at the amount of trust one being can have for another, a piece of scripture came to mind to which, in all my years of being a Christian, I’d never paid any attention.
At that time the disciples* approached Jesus and said, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a child over, placed it in their midst,and said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children,* you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Mt 18:1-3
I had heard those verses a million times, and every time they went in one ear and out the other. However, in that little moment with my son, those words took on a whole new meaning for me.
And let me stress the words “new meaning.”
My son always trusts me to catch him, but when he’s afraid, when he thinks he’s in danger, or when he’s unhappy, the first thing he does is wrap himself around my leg, or stand pleading at my feet for me to pick him up, and if I’m not in the room, if he can’t sense me there, he cries until I return. When he’s anxious, he needs more than just trust. He needs to cling to me, to hold on tight to my shirt, and to feel me there, physically.
As Christians, we need to cling to Christ in the same way. We were created with mind, soul, and body. While prayer and reflection satisfy the spiritual and mental parts of ourselves, we still need something for the body, something on Earth to which we can physically cling. That’s exactly what God gives us in the Catholic Church.
During mass I can physically receive Christ through the Eucharist. When sins weigh heavily on my heart, I can physically meet with Him in the confessional — but most importantly, when I am troubled or afraid, I can physically cling to Him through Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
Here are the words of Saint John Paul II as he contemplated the presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament:
It is pleasant to spend time with him, to lie close to his breast like the Beloved Disciple and to feel the infinite love present in his heart. If in our time Christians must be distinguished above all by the “art of prayer,” how can we not feel a renewed need to spend time in spiritual converse, in silent adoration, in heartfelt love before Christ present in the Most Holy Sacrament? How often, dear brother and sisters, have I experienced this, and drawn from it strength, consolation and support.
When I am in His Church, whether alone or with others, I can sit before the tabernacle and pray, meditate, reflect or simply let my mind go blank. With the faith of a child, I know Christ is present, spiritually and physically, and He is inviting me to cling to him.