For a long time, I was worried about growing up. It wasn’t that I was afraid, really — I just knew that I was in danger of losing something that was important. There were warnings, especially in books: Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince taught me that I would no longer be able to see a boa constrictor digesting an elephant in a drawing of a hat, or a sheep inside a drawing of a box. Peter Pan told me I would lose my way to Neverland. Even the Bible said that the kingdom of God belonged to the little children.
Today’s gospel reading begins with Jesus rejoicing, for a very simple reason: God, through the life of His Son, is able to reveal His truth to his disciples, Jesus’ friends. The disciples are able to share in God’s truth not only because they have been taught it, but because they accept it wholly and without reservations. They trust unconditionally, and in that sense, they are “childlike.”
As a college student, the idea that the kingdom of God is “hidden” from “the wise and the learned” seems problematic. But it also makes sense, because as I grow up, the gap between knowing and understanding seems to widen. It is much harder to believe in unconditional trust. I have been taught that I must devise hypotheses that are empirically testable, that I shouldn’t trust strangers, that truth is relative. I have been taught to question, yes, but I have been taught to doubt rather than to trust. Still, however, I have found that like Dorothea Brooke in George Eliot’s Middlemarch, “I cannot help believing in glorious things in a blind sort of way.” There comes a point where all the learning in the world cannot rival the simple truths I already knew when I was just five years old… that a mother’s love should be unconditional, that there are things like love that are given without reservations and nothing I do can change that.
In this moment of joy, Jesus, who is God Himself, turns to the Father and thanks Him for his grace. He depends on the Father with the trust of a little child, and recognizes that all things come from Him. It is through unconditional trust, through surrender to God, that all things are revealed. When Jesus says that “no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him,” Jesus is saying, trust me, because He is the way to the Father. Though so many “prophets and kings” have longed for God, they have not found Him, because doing so is counterintuitive. It requires something many of us lose as we grow up: the ability to trust, unconditionally.
Advent is a season of hope and joy, a season of anticipation of the arrival of a Messiah who was born into the world helpless, utterly dependent on Mary and Joseph. The very first thing to do, then, to prepare Jesus’ coming, is easy to know, and difficult to understand: it is simply to trust and accept Him, wholly and without reservations.
Alienor Manteau ’22 is a freshman in Grays.