Today is the Feast of St Bonaventure, a thirteenth century saint born right around the time of the death St. Francis of Assisi, 1226. Bonaventure became a follower of Francis and entered the Franciscan Order, becoming a beacon of “light” to the community and to the Church. The theme of “light” runs through his theology, giving him the honor of being called a mystical doctor, or theologian, of the spiritual life.
Jesus teaches us in the gospel that what God has hidden from the “wise and learned, he has revealed to the childlike.” Bonaventure was certainly wise, but being steeped in the gift of wisdom, he opened his heart to the love of God. Being “childlike” means being open and vulnerable to the most powerful force of beauty and goodness. While Bonaventure was very intelligent, he was simple and innocent in the way he lived his life.
Being child-like is so different from being child-ish. An adult who is “childlike” is selfless and finds beauty and enjoyment in the simple things of life. A childlike person has a playful spirit that can laugh at one’s idiosyncrasies and foibles. These individuals bring life and joy into the world, inspiring creativity.
Child-ISH adults are dangerous, especially if they are intelligent, because they are manipulative and want their way and only their way. The world is seen only through their eyes and any other perspective is viewed with suspicion. Childish adults throw tantrums when they don’t get their way and they will lie to get the results they desperately need. Truth telling and compromise are not characteristics of the childish adult. They usually bring havoc and division to the people around them.
In the spirit of Bonaventure, a name which I believe means “the way of goodness,” may we root our intelligence, our intellectual abilities, our wisdom in a spirit of childLIKE wonder and awe.