At today’s General Audience the Pope recalled that children know how to laugh and cry, they have not yet learned the science of duplicity which we adults have learnedIacopo Scaramuzzi vatican city Children remind us that “we are always children”, they bring their way of seeing reality, with a “confident and pure” gaze (“they have not yet learned the science of duplicity which we adults have learned”), they can “teach us to smile and cry again”. “Of course they also bring concerns and sometimes many problems, but a society with these concerns and these problems is far better than a society that is sad and gray because it has no children!” This was the crux of Francis’ message at this Wednesday’s General Audience in St. Peter’s Square.
After reflecting on the different figures withtin the family (mother, father, children, siblings, grandparents) over the past few weeks, today Francis focused on children as he continued his series of catecheses on the family ahead of the October Synod. Children are a great gift for humanity…but they are also great outcasts because they aren’t allowed to be born,” the Pope said. Francis announced that next week he will be talking about "some wounds that unfortunately hurt childhood". I think of "the many children I met during my recent visit to Asia: full of life, enthusiasm, and, on the other hand, I see that in the world today many of them live in undignified conditions... In fact, one can judge a society by the way it treats its children, not only morally, but also if it is a free society or a slave to international interests."
"First of all, children remind us all that, in the first years of life, we were totally dependent on the care and kindness of others. Not even the Son of God was spared this step.” Francis recalled the “beautiful and strong words” the Gospel uses to speak about 'little ones'. This term 'little one' means all the people who depend on the help of others, and especially children. For example, Jesus says: "I give praise Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little ones. The Pope highlighted that “God has no difficulty in being understood by children, and children have no trouble understanding God,” before underlining that "children are in themselves a treasure for humanity and for the Church, because they constantly remind us of the necessary condition for entering the kingdom of God: not to consider ourselves self-sufficient, but in need of help, love, forgiveness. And all of us, we are in need of help, love and forgiveness ... all of us!” "Children, he continued, remind us of another thing; they remind us that we are always children: even if one becomes an adult, or elderly, even if one becomes a parent, or occupies a position of responsibility, under all of this the identity of the child remains. We are all children. And this brings us back always to the fact that we did not give life to ourselves, we received it. The great gift of life is the first gift we have received, life. We sometimes risk forgetting about this, living as if we were the masters of our existence, and instead we are radically dependent. In fact, it is a great joy to hear that in every age, in every situation, in every walk of life, we are and we remain children.”
But more in general, “there are so many gifts, so many riches that children bring to humanity,” the Pope continued. “I will mention just a few. They bring their way of seeing reality, with a confident and pure gaze. Children have a spontaneous confidence in their mother and father; they have a spontaneous trust in God, in Jesus, the Virgin Mary. At the same time, their inner eye is pure, not yet tainted by malice, duplicity, the corrosion of life that hardens hearts. We know that even children have original sin, they have their egos, but they retain a purity and simplicity within. “Children,” Francis continued off the cuff, “are not diplomats: they say what they feel, they say what they see, directly. And so often they challenge their parents: 'I don't like this because it's bad '... in front of other people. But children say what they see, they are not two faced. They have not yet learned the science of duplicity which we adults have learned.”
Still speaking off the cuff, Francis said that children are able to smile and cry spontaneously. When I take them into my arms,” he confided, “some smile, others see me dressed in white, they think I’m a doctor who’s come to give then an injection and they cry. We often don smile sthat lack vivacity, that are artificial and clown-like. Our heart loses the ability to smile and cry,” “two things that we adults often 'block', we are no longer capable.” “Let us ask ourselves: “do I still cry or have I lost myt ability to smile and cry spontaneously?” “It always depends on the heart that hardens… Children can teach us to smile and cry again.”
"Children,” the Pope concluded, “bring life, joy, hope, even trouble. But, life is like that. Of course they also bring concerns and sometimes many problems, but a society with these concerns and these problems is far better than a society that is sad and gray because it has no children! And when we see that the birth rate of a society is down to one percent, we can say that this society is sad, is gray because it has no children.”