Awhile back I posted on Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger's latest book, God and the World, another book-length interview between the Cardinal and German journalist Peter Seewald. Since then, Bill Cork has also commented on the book, as has Kevin Miller.
There are innumerable quotes from this text that are worthy of consideration and reflection, but for now I want to focus on one in particular.
Seewald asks the Cardinal about Jesus' enthusiastic love for children, and quotes Matthew 11:25: "I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes." Ratzinger comments thus:
Yes, here again is the mysterious pattern of the way God acts: the whole magnitude of it is more easily grasped by simple people than by those who, with a thousand distinctions and diverse intellectual baggage, ferret out each little bit on its own and are no longer capable of being overwhelmed by the magnitude of the whole.
No rejection of intellectuals, or of detailed knowledge of Scripture, is intended here, but a warning not to lose our inward simplicity, to keep the meaning of the whole in view, and to allow oneself to be impressed, to be ready to accept the unexpected.
It's no secret that for intellectuals this is a great temptation. When we look back on the history of the ideologies of the past century, we can see that simple people ahve often judged more soundly than intellectuals. The latter always want to make more distinctions, to find out more about this and that--and thereby they lose their overall view. [emphasis added; pp. 243-244]
Ratzinger is right on here. For those of us who's way of living and grasping the faith is perhaps more intellectual, the temptation to over-intellectualize the faith is indeed great. We must always seek to have that childlike simplicity, that awe and wonder at God's work of creation and redemption. We must be on guard against the temptation to "experiment on God," to reduce Him to a scientific project or hypothesis which we are seeking to validate. We must remember that we are the creation, and He is the Creator.
As the Cardinal notes, Jesus is not condemning intellectuals or an intellectual approach to Him per se, but rather He is calling us to retain that wonder, that simplicity, which so characterizes the child's view of the world around him.