Years ago I attended a lecture which described average moral development. When a child or even some adults choose to act justly because they fear punishment, they are illustrating the most primitive level of morality. Even when a child or immature adult choose the moral alternative in the hopes of receiving praise or an award like a pay raise, they still are motivated simply by external forces. However when a person acts in love because they are remaining true to their core values, then they have reached the truest form of ethical action. So how do we tap into this core of goodness within us ?
Some religious people would maintain that only an active Christian can act lovingly. Yet even Sacred Scriptures disagrees with this narrow view. St. Paul explains that God will judge everyone by how much truth God has revealed to them. If a tribe hidden in the jungle has never heard the gospel, God will judge based on what they know and St. Paul assures us that all men have the basic laws of God carved into their hearts. In modern language, we all have an awareness of good and evil or a conscience.
The problem is tapping into and living out from my core where God has inscribed a moral code on my heart. It is hidden in my deepest self. Actually, if we can block out our own ego and selfishness and simply stop and listen, even a child knows what is right and what is wrong.
The second problem is finding the strength to do what is right. Thank God for Christ because he offers an easy way to love. Relax. Give up striving. Surrender to His love and let it saturate every cell of your body. Then simply let His love flow through you. It ends up being a long journey to such carefree lifestyle because pride and ego get in the way. It is so simple that it seems complicated to our adult, logical minds.
No wonder Jesus says,
‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’
And in even stronger terms,
“I assure you,” He said, “unless you are converted and become like children, , you will never get into the kingdom from heaven…” Matthew 18:4
A relationship to the living God is child’s play. Listen to this exchange between my young children:
One afternoon, I was making dinner, standing at the counter with my back to our three youngest children. Katie and Anthony were lounging around the kitchen table, with three-year-old Lucy perched like a little elf on a high stool, happily swinging her legs.
Simply making conversation, Katie who was about eight, asked Lucy,
“Lucy, whose your favorite, mum or dad?”
Still facing the counter, I looked over my shoulder and intruded on their conversation,
“Smart answer, Lucy.”
Lucy was not done, though,
“But she’s not my real mum, Mary is.”
Katie rolled her eyes, slapped her forehead with the palm of her hand and said incredulously,
“Where does she get this stuff?”
I tried to explain as simply as I could,
“Well, the Holy Spirit is in her heart and she listens to His voice.”
Lucy jumped right back into the discussion and chanted in a sing-song, lilting voice,
“That’s right. God the Father in my heart. Baby Jesus in my heart. Holy Spirit in my heart. Mother Mary in my heart…. but…. I still like mum and dad the best!”
Katie rolled her eyes and plunked her head down on the table with a loud sigh,
“Where does she get this stuff?”
I just laughed.
A few weeks later, as I crouched down to tie Lucy’s shoelace, Lucy picked up the small gold cross I wore around my neck and said,
“This is the cross of Jesus and the glory of God shines all around it.”
Katie rolled her eyes again, slapped her forehead and asked,
“WHERE does she get this stuff?