I was born into a family with a simple faith that established Jesus as the children’s friend.

There were many little hymns about this,  some mentioning the mothers of Saalam who brought their children to Jesus.

Remember that?

The disciples tried to drive the children away, but Jesus rebuked his men, and gathered the children in his arms, stating, “Of such is the Kingdom of Heaven.

That story is important for children, especially those who feel rejected by adult authority.

Jesus was certainly our friend, and every night we began our prayer with, “Gentle Jesus, meek and mild, looks upon a little child. Pity my simplicity. Suffer me to come to thee.”

However, as we grew, we discovered that Jesus could not be described as meek and mild.

He was revolutionary.

He broke foolish rules.

He condemned authority that placed burdens on people.

He sought the company of people who were social outcasts

He preached, “Love your enemies.”

The child’s cocoon of simple faith opened, and a relationship with Jesu made demands on us.

It brought us  beyond “me-and- Jesus” comfort to “Love one another as I have loved you.”

“Love your enemies. Bless those who curse you.”

This is really serious stuff, not to be ignored.

A relationship with Christ Jesus meant taking on his ministry in the world.

So what is that ministry about?

Quite simply, it is about love. If what I say or do is without love, it is, as St Paul said,” like the sounding of brass.”

It is also about personal growth.

The wide and deep spirituality of the Catholic faith gives me all the room I need to grow in love.

It teaches that in giving love to others, we learn to love ourselves.

This is a long way from childlike understanding. In those days, as a follower of Jesus, I read the Gospels, sorting characters as “goodies” and “baddies.”

Now, near the end of a long life, I see myself in them all. I am Mary and Martha, and I am Pontius Pilate.

At times I have needed healing for blindness and paralysis.

I have denied Jesus and have anointed his feet.

There have been times of betrayal, times of choosing the better part and times of turning away.

If you sit down to reflect on your life, you may see a similar pattern.

You will also see that in every experience, Jesus was there, smiling and saying. “This is what life I all about. learn from it and grow.”

These days, prayer is mostly silent meditation filled with thanks: gratitude for love, gratitude for the loss that makes room for growth, and gratitude for the whole, messy, wonderful human journey.

If you have read this far, you may wish to reflect on your own prayer journey.

How has it changed since childhood?

What has Jesus taught you about your own crucifixions and resurrections?

How do you see the Grace that makes wholeness out of division?

And how do you pray now?

I must admit that now and then, after a long day, I take my old body to bed and pray, “Gentle Jesus, meek and mild, look upon a little child…”

  • Joy Cowley is a wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and retreat facilitator. Joy Cowley is a wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and retreat facilitator.
  • Joy will be a director at “Remain in Me,” a 6 day individually guided silent retreat
  • The retreat offered by Ignatian Spirituality New Zealand



Additional reading

News category: Analysis and Comment.

Tags: ,