“Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man’’ (Luke 2: 52).
Someone gifted an elderly man with a Smartphone. He quietly walked up to the store and asked the shop-keeper if he could set it-up for him. The shop-keeper smiled asking “Aren’t there any kids at home? I am sure they will help you”.
That’s the world we are living in today. Little kids at home can handle gadgets with such ease that elders are often baffled. The information super highway is expanding by second and young people are chasing behind to catch-up. Thanks to parents who are doing all they can to encourage their children match high standards of intellectual prowess in an ever-competitive world. We want our children to get into the best of schools and colleges and make it to “the top”.
It should shock us to know what a ten year old Jewish child of Jesus’ time (and even before) would be required to know. A learned Rabbi named Judah ben Tema exhorted that Jewish boys should learn the Scripture at age 5, the Mishnah or Jewish law at age 10, and learn to fulfill all the law by age 13, and then they should learn the Talmud, the Jewish commentaries on the Old Testament at age 15. The mother was directly responsible for these early years of development. Consequently, 85% of a child’s character is developed within the first 5 years of life.
Where do our children stand today when we compare with the child Jesus who “grew in Wisdom and Stature” (Luke 2:52)? The Wisdom of Jesus in his childhood was the wisdom of the Jewish Law and the Scriptures and the Stature of Jesus was his reputation, status and respect that he earned for his holiness.
Spiritual training for Jewish children began at a very young age, and was very intense because they were given great responsibility at a young age also. Paul wrote to Timothy about how as a child, even from an infant, Timothy had been instructed in the Word by his mother. How about imagining Timothy’s mother reciting Scriptures and telling Bible stories as she rocked “little” Timothy on her knees?
We need to do some soul-searching and introspection on how much of spiritual focus we give to our children as they grow-up? Is the Academic and Career desperation overtaking or overshadowing the importance of the spiritual growth of our children?
Every day incidents stare us in the face where even the most educated high-salaried people are stranded on the highways of emotional perils and even on the verge of slipping into the valleys of death. The world today is churningout Intellectual Giants and Emotional Pygmies, people with high intellectual caliber but unable to handle emotional stress. We can prod our children to build tall career towers but without a strong spiritual foundation, these towers will fall like a pack of cards. The world would give us knowledge, but Wisdom comes only from The Lord. This is why King Solomon too priced Wisdom greater than power, pelf and Glory. A Reverential Fear of The Lord is the beginning of Wisdom. Knowledge comes from the portals of Schools and Colleges and the wider spectrum of the Media. But Wisdom comes from being in the awesome presence of God. With Wisdom from God, all earthly knowledge finds greater meaning and the challenges of life itself become easier to handle.
O LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of David my father, although I am but a little child. I do not know how to go out or come in. And your servant is in the midst of your people whom you have chosen, a great people, too many to be numbered or counted for multitude. Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?”
(1 Kgs 3: 6-9).
Fr. Adolf Washington