Suffer the little children

To be more precise, suffer especially the babies. The other day, I had the misfortune—that in the end turned out actually as a great fortune—of being with two screaming babies on a one-hour plane ride. If there’s anything that I am most sensitive to and that gets my goat instantly, it’s noise. I was praying hard to control my accelerating irritation.

Then I started thinking, because there was no other option. These are babies, I remembered. They don’t understand anything. They don’t behave by logic. They know nothing about good manners and right conduct. Their reactions to things are simply limited to smiling or crying or just playing cute. That’s their world, bless them.

I know the mothers were trying hard to pacify them. In this regard, there can only be two possibilities—either they manage or not. Well, in this particular flight, they got to silence the infants only when we were already landing.

In the meantime, I just had to suffer. But it was a suffering that yielded some precious lessons for me. I realized that these crying, irritating little bundles are actually like us when we bother each other due to our mistakes and sins that we consider to be so ridiculous that we can easily fall into rash judgments against each other.

We, too, cannot understand why we fall into the same sins. We can have some good, correct ideas of what is right and wrong, and yet we often choose the wrong option.

Those screaming, irritating infants somehow enlightened me that we are like them, or even worse than them, in the sense that like them we only have limited ways of reacting properly to the tremendous and overwhelming mysterious challenges and trials in our life. In spite of the light given us, we still can stumble often as if we are in the dark.

In spite of our brilliant ideas, philosophies, ideologies and theologies at our command, we still cannot capture, much less, be in full control of the many mysteries we have to contend with in life. The reality of our life is so rich and mysterious that we can never fully fathom its depth, nor cover its range and scope.

In other words, we may know something, but definitely we would not know everything. Besides, things can get more complicated because St. Paul once talked about an abiding inner conflict in us (cfr. Rom 7,15-20) and the mystery of iniquity that is at work in us (cfr. 2 Thes 2,7). All these somehow invite us that we just should understand one another and avoid making rash judgments.

I believe this is a fact of life that we just have to learn to suffer by understanding each other, showing compassion and mercy to one another, instead of making rash judgments, or worse, turning those unfair judgments into some action.

To be sure, this is why Christ chose to be most understanding with those who were considered sinners. He fraternized with them and gradually showed them the way to correct their ways. He lived well what was said of God in the Book of Ezekiel: “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live.” (33,11)

This should be the way we handle those occasions when we are bothered and irritated by the defects, faults, mistakes and sins of others.

I believe that’s the reason Christ told us that we have to forgive one another. Otherwise, he said, we won’t be forgiven ourselves by God. (cfr. Mt 6,14-15) In other words, we have to suffer not only the little children but also the adults and oldies who can cause graver irritations on us.

I had to thank those screaming babies for reminding me of this truth of our faith.