By Fr. Jonathan Filkins
The Picayune Item
The anxious boy asked, “Dad, I have a baseball game this afternoon. Do you think you could do my homework for me?” Shocked at the request, the father replied, “Son, my doing your homework, just would not be right.” That’s OK,” said the boy, but you could at least give it a try, couldn’t you?”
Even though there is humor in the telling, the father still has a lot of work to do to direct his son in the pursuit of proper choices in life. While the boy’s persistency is noteworthy, it is his decided lack of reflection upon what his father has said, to his initial request, which is of overarching concern.
Each of us, no matter what our age, exhibits traits of being a parent, an adult, and a child. The parent, within us, is directive, firm, and exacting. We see this in our actions, such as telling another to: SIT!” The adult, within us, is pragmatic, analytical, and precise, expressing ourselves with little emotion, “Water always goes down the drain counter-clockwise, in the Northern Hemisphere.” Lastly, our child within us is egocentric, playful, and creative. We may exuberantly remark, “I just love to paint and work with clay!”
As we grow older, personal, societal, and family pressures direct us to move from being a child, to an adult, with varying levels of intensity and success. There is a supposition, as we age we mature emotionally, spiritually and physically. Of course, there is little we can do about the physical part, what with genetics, diet, and all. It is the emotional and spiritual parts, which takes the most work.
Certainly, there is less and less tolerance of “childlike” behavior at age twenty, than at age ten. Yet, we applaud the creativity and the joy of youth itself. In today’s’ world, we place an emphasis on things young and new and even juvenile in nature. If we embrace this life-view, we focus on our child, as we only grow older, and sacrifice maturity, spiritual development, avoiding our “growing up.” Our lives become spent on the material, on obtaining things for our own inner child, which is never satisfied.
Writing to the early Christian Church in Corinth, Saint Paul said, “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” Written nearly 2,000 years ago, these words are just as pertinent today. Many of us enjoy rolling around the floor with the children, or a family pet. Many of us have hobbies, or creative vocations, to express ourselves. Yet, there is the distinction between age and maturity, which is the true mark of our progression in life. With age, comes freedom and responsibility.
First, is our responsibility to ourselves; to be the best with what God gives to us: our intellects, our talents and our positive attitudes. Secondly, to allow the responsibility of our maturity to be reflected in our desire to achieve, for others, through sincere effort. Lastly, it is our responsibility to develop an ongoing relationship with our Creator. Each is an integral part of a life on earth, as we decide to grow up, or just grow older.