In the thirteenth chapter of Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians, after the often-repeated “Love is patient, love is kind” passages, we read another often-repeated portion:
11. When I was a child, I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I put aside childish things.
12. At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known.
We come into the world knowing nothing, not even who or what we are. We can’t even open our eyes, the new light is so bright, and our only recognizable instinct is to suck on anything put into our mouths.
Our parents are our first educators. During our earliest years, they teach us the basics, things we never remember not knowing, like how to aim a spoon at our mouths and actually get the food in there. Others around us, like neighbors and daycare workers, teach us to be social: to regard others as worthy of kindness, to value cooperation and order. As our consciousness of the world grows, our knowledge of ourselves is enhanced by the ability to compare unlike ways of living to our own. Though St. Paul’s letter is addressing our relationship to God, in the temporal world we also come to know others as we are known to them.