"I love my spiritual children as much as my own soul, and even more. I have restored them to Jesus with pain and with love. I can forget myself, but not my spiritual children, and I assure you that, when the Lord calls me, I will say to Him: ‘Lord, I shall remain at the gates of Paradise; I shall enter only when I have seen the last of my children enter’.” - St. Pio of Pietrelcina
I am very good at being childish. I suspect there are others like me. A childish person believes the world revolves around him, that the purpose of others is to satisfy his personal needs. Childish people tend to be quick tempered, selfish, easily hurt, dramatic, and petty. I can recall many circumstances in my life where I behaved childishly, even if only internally. Sometimes our childish thoughts remain internal, but sometimes they express themselves outwardly, to our eventual embarassment.
Childish behavior is like yawning on a subway car: once someone starts, it spreads quickly to everyone else. This was no exception. The worse the situation got, the more I dug my heels in the ground, and the situation grew toxic. Someone had to give in, and each of us waited, with the self-righteous expectation that the other had to make the first move. Sound familiar? How many experience family dynamics that mimic my story? What about the atmosphere at church, among those serving in various ministries? Work? School? The dynamics of my situation are played out daily in every corner of society. Being childish is certainly NOT what Jesus meant when He said, "amen I say to you, unless you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 18:3.
My amazing, beautiful wife has a wonderful outlook on relationships. When there is an impasse, a difference of opinion, and tension, she almost always gives in first. She realized many years ago that the only recourse she has when someone needs to make the first move is to make that move herself. She is humble, and in that humility she is strong. Ultimately, she changes hearts with her humility far more powerfully than digging in and refusing to budge ever could. She taught me well, and I applied her direction to my work situation, and the tension broke almost immediately. True humility calls us to consider others, to rely totally on God for our well being, and to love with no conditions or criteria.
Padre Pio calls each of us to be his spiritual children, seeking his guidance, intercession and direction. He calls us to trust God, love Him with all our heart, mind, and soul, and to submit ourselves to His will. In this call Padre Pio guides us in our relationships with our families, co-worker, friends and relatives, calling us not to be childish, but humble spiritual children. St. Pio promises to lift us in prayer, and to wait joyfully for us to join him in heaven. What an invitation! Take him up on his offer!