A New Vision of Maturity

A New Vision of Maturity

Feast of St. Matthew

John 21:1-8

Matthew 9:9-12

    A quote spoken by Ursula Le Guru summarizes my vision of maturity: 

“I believe that maturity is not an outgrowing, but a growing up: that an adult is not a dead child but a child who survives.”

    That speaks loads to me because I have survived, rejection, abuse, threats, and attempts on my life, a broken shoulder, malaria, and much more. I survived because like a child I  have flexibility, openness, and an ability to have compassion, even when it is painful.

    On this feast of St. Matthew his story reminds us of one who gave up everything for Jesus, and paying back all the money he had taken from others, the characteristic of a child, not caring for the material.

    I remember, another Matthew, my friend, who at 15 would be given a hundred dollars by his mom every time he came into the City to hang with me–he gave it away to the people on the street, and at 30 he still does the same. Matthew is a child, he cares for others.

    The youth we have known and hang with survive day by day because they are children who are flexible. not set in their ways. They can see the good in the worst of circumstances, they adjust and have an open heart. They always have hope.

    Many people have come and gone, and have spoiken words to me,  I listen, and am deaf to their advice, which would help me grow up–growing up in the rigid manner of society, but I  would not have survived if I had not remained a “child”.

    Recently I  spent  four hours snap chatting a nineteen-year-old in an abusive relationship, not with advice but listening, letting him enter into my life, and me in his, I was a child with another child, not an adult who had no time and only “advice.” I felt his pain, cried with him.

    A child has the qualities of openness, listening, caring, not being divisive, and trusting, all characteristics that we all need. A  child plays and is open with everyone, not taking sides. A child sees both sides of an issue. Children do- not judge. Children can be mean and vicious, and I have scars to prove it, but ultimately, they can be reasoned with. We all are mean and vicious at times , none of us are pure.

    Maturity is loving our neighbor as we love ourselves, maturity is being open to others, not divisive, listening, and caring. Maturity is being responsible in our actions.

    St. Ignatius teaches us to be “indifferent”, to not take sides, to not take things so seriously,  to not be pushed to and fro, to care only about the love that comes through Jesus of  Nazareth in caring for our brothers and sisters.  He was a child until the day he died.

    Father Henri Nouwen describes maturity and as the shadows darken \around my life they  ring true in these words:

“I find myself with the same old struggles every time I am in a new and unfamiliar milieu. In particular, the experience of isolation keeps returning, not in a lessening but in an increasing degree. Becoming older makes the experience of isolation much more familiar–may be simply because of sheer repetition–but not less painful.

So maybe the question is not how to cope better, but how to allow my unchanging character to become a way of humility and surrender to God. As I recognize my fears of being left alone and my desire for a sense of belonging, I may gradually give up my attempts to fill my loneliness and be ready to recongize with my heart that God is Immanuel-“God with us”, and that I belong to him before anything or anyone else.

And so a new vision of maturity may emerge: not a vision in which I am more and more able to deal with my own pains, but one in which I am more willing to let my Lord deal with them.  After all, maturation in a spiritual sense is a growing willingness to stretch out my arms, to have a belt put around me, and be led where I would rather not go. (John 21:18″

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!


Father River Damien, sfw, D.Min., D.S.T.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164



Snap Chat: riodamien2


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