“At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children [nepiois]. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure. (Luke 10:21, along with 18:16 [brefe], of course)
These little ones are the height of foolishness in the eyes of the worldy-wise. Despite Jesus’ absolutely jarring words, they are, quite frankly, utterly unworthy our time, because even theologians want to hang out with the philosophers. And yet, we can see that infants wonderfully reveal both human nature and the instrumental nature of faith in God – and they do this better than anything. Though infants, like the rest of us, are filled to the brim with original sin, they illustrate marvelously not “trust and be destroyed”, but rather “trust or be destroyed”, i.e. human relationality. This is human nature – we can’t not trust other persons.
Further, infants illustrate absolute receptivity. They are undiluted un-discernment. They are not self-conscious and do not make conscious choices – they are not picky and choosy at all! Show me a discerning, non-conformist infant and I will show you, I don’t know, a female Orthodox priest. Certainly, as they grow older, they *start* to make conscious choices (as my youngest son has been doing for a while now) and yet this is only gradual: “…before the boy knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right” (Isaiah 7:16).
Lutheran theologian Norman Nagel’s dictum “one must be willing to be nothing but given to” is more true of infants than anyone. In sum, infants are not even “willing” to do anything, but simply receive faith by hearing. Further, the Word of God does not meet with any rational understanding from the infant, and likewise, its capacity for a “natural” trust in God was shattered at the fall, taking God’s image with it. With the infants inborn lack of original righteousness, it now desperately needs someone else’s abundance – namely, a Gospel Word – to create in it true faith and understanding. God uses one’s neighbor to create that trust ex nihilo again.
On the contrary, on the other side of this fallen world, there will be no lack, but a simple giving and receiving of abundance for abundance.