Summary: Faith gives us a heightened respect for nature so that we "discern in it a grammar written by the hand of God." God's Fatherhood makes it possible for us to live together with one heart and one will.
Thursday of the 11th Week in Course 2014
Where did we get the idea that God is our Father? Surely the definitive statement of God’s fatherhood is in this prayer we learned from Jesus, the Son. Still, we didn’t fully know what a father is until Jesus came and established the means by which we call God our Father. Even now only the followers of Christ fully get it: the passion, death and Resurrection of Jesus won us the right to be adopted sons and daughters of God. How? Through the sacraments of baptism and confirmation, we are filled with the Holy Spirit, who transforms us into images of Jesus, the Son of God. That means we are God’s children, and heirs to all that Jesus has, all the gifts that can make the Church effective in our broken world.
The popes tell us that this is the path to true fraternity, union with all other humans in the world, because the first effect of faith as a building is experienced in the human family: “Absorbed and deepened in the family, faith becomes a light capable of illumining all our relationships in society. As an experience of the mercy of God the Father, it sets us on the path of brotherhood. Modernity sought to build a universal brotherhood based on equality, yet we gradually came to realize that this brotherhood, lacking a reference to a common Father as its ultimate foundation, cannot endure. We need to return to the true basis of brotherhood. The history of faith has been from the beginning a history of brotherhood, albeit not without conflict. God calls Abraham to go forth from his land and promises to make of him a great nation, a great people on whom the divine blessing rests (cf. Gen 12:1-3). As salvation history progresses, it becomes evident that God wants to make everyone share as brothers and sisters in that one blessing, which attains its fullness in Jesus, so that all may be one. The boundless love of our Father also comes to us, in Jesus, through our brothers and sisters. Faith teaches us to see that every man and woman represents a blessing for me, that the light of God’s face shines on me through the faces of my brothers and sisters.
“How many benefits has the gaze of Christian faith brought to the city of men for their common life! Thanks to faith we have come to understand the unique dignity of each person, something which was not clearly seen in antiquity. In the second century the pagan Celsus reproached Christians for an idea that he considered foolishness and delusion: namely, that God created the world for man, setting human beings at the pinnacle of the entire cosmos. ‘Why claim that [grass] grows for the benefit of man, rather than for that of the most savage of the brute beasts?’ [Celsus wrote]46 ‘If we look down to Earth from the heights of heaven, would there really be any difference between our activities and those of the ants and bees?’ At the heart of biblical faith is God’s love, his concrete concern for every person, and his plan of salvation which embraces all of humanity and all creation, culminating in the incarnation, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Without insight into these realities, there is no criterion for discerning what makes human life precious and unique. Man loses his place in the universe, he is cast adrift in nature, either renouncing his proper moral responsibility or else presuming to be a sort of absolute judge, endowed with an unlimited power to manipulate the world around him.
“Faith, on the other hand, by revealing the love of God the Creator, enables us to respect nature all the more, and to discern in it a grammar written by the hand of God and a dwelling place entrusted to our protection and care. Faith also helps us to devise models of development which are based not simply on utility and profit, but consider creation as a gift for which we are all indebted; it teaches us to create just forms of government, in the realization that authority comes from God and is meant for the service of the common good. Faith likewise offers the possibility of forgiveness, which so often demands time and effort, patience and commitment. Forgiveness is possible once we discover that goodness is always prior to and more powerful than evil, and that the word with which God affirms our life is deeper than our every denial. From a purely anthropological standpoint, unity is superior to conflict; rather than avoiding conflict, we need to confront it in an effort to resolve and move beyond it, to make it a link in a chain, as part of a progress towards unity.” But from the point of view of God, unity is exactly what is intended for humans. God wanted us to be in His own image and likeness–the likeness of the Trinity, multiple persons but one in mind & will.