The Wisdom of Little John

Seated on small chairs organized in neat rows by their governesses, the children attended Mr. Bier’s class with rapt attention. In the middle of the lesson, little John raised his hand and asked…

Our story begins early in the last century, in a small forest near Baiersdorf, Germany.
On a calm and cool morning, Mr. Bier had scheduled an outdoor class there for the schoolchildren. He was a man in his fifties, well-versed in natural sciences, who dedicated himself with utmost patience to passing on his knowledge to his young pupils. He strove to open their eyes to the wonders of Creation, to awaken their scientific curiosity and, above all, to teach them to love God, the source of all these things.

Mr. Bier was a soul of firm and solid convictions, but there was one doubt that troubled his mind and often robbed him of sleep. He asked himself: if God is Goodness and supreme Perfection, why did He allow sin to enter the world, permitting man to offend Him so often and so seriously? Why did He not make all Christians strong in virtue, like sturdy oak trees, so that they could easily overcome all attacks the evil one?

Mr. Bier had firm and solid convictions, but there was one doubt that troubled his mind…

Little by little, the children were arriving in the clearing where the class was to be held, led by their governesses, who sat them on small chairs organized into neat rows, with true German discipline. The grass was green and the sunlight made the drops of morning dew sparkle like diamonds.

Mr. Bier plucked a flower and began to explain how God had given plants different forms and colours to symbolize the diversity of His attributes. He taught them how the special characteristics of each creature mirrored a certain aspect of the divine immensity.

The rose, beautiful and combative, defended its apparent fragility with protective thorns. No one dares to touch a rose without caution and reverence. The jasmine and the morning-glory climb so high, in search of sunlight, that no one can reach as far as them. They are, so to speak, contemplative flowers…

Just then, John, one of his young pupils raised his hand and his clear, innocent voice to ask:

“Mr. Bier, what did God mean to symbolize when he created grass?”

The teacher fell silent for a moment.

“Well, the grass… It isn’t strong, nor does it reach very great heights. It is easily flattened underfoot, and it has a fairly ordinary shade of green.”

It is in the weakness of creatures that God shows the wonders of His mercy

John continued:

“But, sir, how would God ever show his divine compassion if all creatures were strong and independent? Didn’t God have to create some of them quite weak and helpless so that He could prove His goodness and power through them?”

Mr. Bier had never thought of that before. Truly, if God made all beings at the height of perfection, He would not be able to help or forgive them. His mercy would find no chance to show its wonders.

“Take, for example, all this grass around us,” little John persisted. “On its own, it would not appear special in any way… But with the sunbeams making the dewdrops glisten on its blades, it looks just wonderful, don’t you think?”

                                                        Little drops of dew sparkled on the grass

      With the sun making the dewdrops glisten on its blades,                  the grass looks just wonderful!

The teacher nodded at his pupil with approval, and continued his class. It seemed as if nothing unusual had happened, but deep in Mr. Bier’s soul, something had changed. Little John’s words had helped him to better understand the perfection of God’s plan, and his soul had been relieved of the burdensome doubts he had carried with him for years. Sometimes God speaks through the mouth of a little child, to transmit pearls of wisdom.

Little John who had spoken up was a boy with large, dark eyes. Despite his youth, he possessed a high degree of virtue and courage, was unbending towards evil, and his love for God was as pure as the air of that bright morning. Perhaps the Mother of God had granted Mr. Bier a benefit that he would only realize in Heaven: the chance to have taught a great saint who, attending his well-prepared lessons, had learned to love God’s Creation more.

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