Innocence…what does that mean to you? When we are younger we have no worries, no responsibilities. We don’t worry about the past or the future. The only worry is about “right now”. What happened? What happened to the part of us that took the world for what it was, not what we think it is or even for what know that it is? Sure, we grow up and have to take on some adult responsibilities. Still, what happened to that child in each of us who, with everything we did, it was genuine and true? When everything we did had true love and genuine care about it. When was the last time we all stopped to actually listen and talk to a child? They can be the most eye-opening experiences of your life. Get past the fact that they might be annoying and hard to understand. Think about it this way…I bet God understands them perfectly. To me, it seems the more we begin to “understand”, the less our hearts really show and the less impact God really has in our lives. Why do you think we are called to have a child-like faith?

I was hanging out with a 9 year old kid recently who saw the cross I wear around my neck and wanted to touch it. Instead, I took it off and put it around his neck for him to have. The look on his face was of so much joy and pure innocence, and of love and compassion. It truly amazed me how genuinely thankful he was and it really touched my heart in a way that only God can. Think about that…how come we don’t feel that when we see the Eucharist? How come we don’t get up and want to touch it and have it like a child getting a gift? That’s Jesus – the ultimate gift! How come that same genuine love and awe doesn’t fill our hearts when we receive Communion; the gift that we can receive every day if we so choose? The ultimate gift – the gift of life! You know, God works through kids a lot, whether it’s by answering spoken or unspoken prayers, by bringing a family together, or just by receiving the best hug you have ever had on a day when your life was at its worst.

Innocence is something this world has lost…and I have lost mine. I’ve seen some dark things and have been negative and cynical in my life, but I have also seen the Light and felt the warmth and the love. I know I’ll never be able to regain my lost innocence, but I can make it so I do my best to keep that in others for as long as I can.

So the next time you see a child, talk with them and hang out with them for a few minutes – you never know what you might learn. And the next time you go to church and you receive Jesus, Himself, look at Him the way a child views a gift – with genuine love and compassion and acceptance.

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