In the Gospel reading we just heard Jesus reveals two important truths: that God is a Father and that we are to address him in prayer as “our Father”. While the Old Testament speaks of God in fatherly terms, Jesus reveals to us that God the Father is not like a father, He is a Father. Fatherhood in God is not a psychological projection of man onto God; rather our own human fatherhood, sonship, and brotherhood is meant to be an image of the eternal Father and Son and masculine Spirit in the Trinity. In the words and deeds of Christ, God reveals to us what perfect fatherhood, sonship, and brotherhood look like.
More incredibly, we are not to address God the Father as “the Father of Jesus” but as “our Father in heaven”. How is this so? No man is born a child of God by nature. We may call God our Father only because we have been joined to the mystical, supernatural body of His incarnate Son, Jesus Christ. We are the sons of God because He allows us to share in the eternal sonship of Christ. This is why man has been raised higher than the angels, for no angel can call God “Father”. What’s more, we do not simply “call” God our Father. By sending the Holy Spirit into our souls in baptism, God places his own nature in us, truly incorporating us into His Son. You are a son of God! As Pope Leo the Great implored: “Christian, recognize your dignity!”
In Jesus, the love of the Father and the Son is revealed and we are called to share in that love. While baptism binds us to the body of Christ and makes us sons of God, the sacraments are only effective because of Jesus’ obedience to his Father. As are with all things: there is no crown and no glory without a cross to bear. Indeed, the generations of American men can attest that the strongest of all brotherhoods are created when men sweat and bleed together. At Mass and in the Eucharist we men are mustered and bound together in the sacrifice of Jesus. Baptism may make us sons, but the Eucharist makes us brothers. As fathers we teach our sons to sacrifice; as sons we honor our fathers with obedience. As Catholic men we must learn to be brothers.
Monday, February 3, 2014
Speaking to Fathers and Sons on Fatherhood, Sonship, and Brotherhood
Last weekend I was asked to deliver an address to a large group of fathers and sons regarding Jesus' instruction on the Our Father (see Matthew 6:5-13). What follows below is my address: