Be like a child and listen to God's word

Kathleen Giffin


Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – August 3, 2014
Isaiah 55.1-3 | Psalm 145 | Romans 8.35, 37-39 | Matthew 14.13-21
July 21, 2014

Lately my three-year-old granddaughter and I have been having a conversation. It goes something like this: "Madi, you have to listen to your Mom, and do what she says.

"If you want to have a happy day, then you need to listen. Your day will go better and you will get more of the things you want when you listen to your Mom."

The Lord says: 'Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters.' - Isaiah 55.1

'The Lord says: "Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters."'

Isaiah 55.1

I shouldn't call it a conversation because it is actually my mini-lecture, which she happily agrees to but doesn't necessarily abide by when the opportunity comes for her to want something her mother doesn't permit.

It's the typical thing, she wants to climb there, or touch that or eat this; but she really is no different from the adults. It's just that we think we get away with doing what we want, with being wilful and ignoring the voice that points to that which is best, that which keeps us safe and truly satisfies.


The prophet Isaiah speaks that voice: "Heed me, and you shall eat well, you shall delight in rich fare. Come to me heedfully; listen, that you may have life."

Paul's letter to the Romans reminds us of the faithfulness and reliability of God's love for us. Nothing can separate us from the love of God, no difficulty, no suffering, neither death nor life.

How then could we doubt the promise of the psalmist that "the hand of the Lord feeds us; He answers all our needs"? Yet we do doubt; God is so often Plan B – that which we default to when our self-determined Plan A doesn't work out as we had hoped.

One reason Scripture so often uses the image of the child as the model for the follower of Christ is because so many of us still need to learn the lessons that children must learn. Listen, obey, trust that your parent knows what's best; have self-control, don't give way to rebellious impulse.

We need to become like little children, trusting that our Father in heaven does know what is best, does love us sufficiently, does have a plan that ultimately leads to happiness.


We need to stop thinking we are getting away with doing what we want because, to be clear, it is not so much that we get away with it, but rather that we are allowed to make those choices even when they aren't what is best, and it is often only later that the consequences catch up with us.

Madi's consequences happen quickly; the adult's consequences happen over time, with relationships that don't go well, addictions that develop and create dis-ease, dissatisfactions with our lives that grow year by year.

So we do well to listen to the mini-lecture that Madi listens to, and try at least as hard as she does to respond. Listen to God's word. Do what it says; life will go better, we will be happier and we will get more of the things we truly want.

(Kathleen Giffin