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Our Father, Our Identity

Activist politicians want to eliminate "gendered" language, but God has ennobled such words by revealing himself — and our own nature — with them.

“You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

No one needs to point out that we live in an age of “identity” politics, of questions of sex and what is called “gender.” In our Congress there is even a move to eliminate the names father, mother, son, and daughter in favor of generic expressions that indicate little of a human identity rooted in nature.

Well, fortunately for us, should we have any doubts about how to think and speak about who we are, we have the permanently normative language of divine revelation to guide us. We know that from the beginning we were created in the image and likeness of God. The sacred scriptures tell us that he is more than simply our Creator and Maker; he desires to be called our Father and even, in his Son made one of us by his incarnation, our Friend.

Pay attention to the Nicene Creed we recite at Holy Mass on Sundays and solemnities. We profess that the God is the “Father Almighty,” and that in the unity of one godhead he has a Son, who was “begotten before all ages, God from God, Light from light, True God from true God.”

So we believe that deep in the deepest heart of reality there is an eternal Father who perpetually begets his Son, and calls him his Son, and takes such a delight in him as his beloved, that his happiness consists in a third Person, the Holy Spirit, in whom he and his Son love each other and everything else.

To be sure, human words, based on limited human nature and experience, cannot at all convey the full sense of the mysteries of the divine being. Even so, God uses our own experience of the natures he created to teach us about himself. How could it be otherwise? Every teacher, especially the divine teacher of us all, uses our nature and experience to convey to us the truths that go beyond our experience.

But God uses the most apt and most intelligible words to instruct us. In order to tell us about himself, he gave a privileged place to the words father, son, conceived, born… Any ideologies that demonize and seek to eliminate this language are ideologies that are fighting against the best and the holiest and the happiest things that God has to give us.

Indeed, he wants all of us to hear his words to his eternal Son addressed also to us: “You are my beloved Son.” “You are my beloved daughter.” “You are my friend.” ‘You are my spouse.” “You are my beloved.”  This is what Jesus and Mary heard in the depths of their beings. This is our true identity. Some day we will know precisely what these words mean eternally; in the meantime they are our comfort and confidence, whereby we dare to say “Our Father.”

Sadly, today, “daring” to call God our Father has a different sense. This is because things have reached such a point in our culture that not only do men (please excuse the expression!) reject God, but also the nature created by him.

The devil has been working a long time in human history to undermine poor human creatures’ ability to accept the Good News that we are sharers as beloved children in the divine nature. Once even the use of the words that indicate fatherhood, motherhood, sonship, and so on becomes an offense on the level of racial slur, then the profession of the truths of revelation on which our salvation depend becomes a crime.

Well, we are back to the beginning of Christian history, back to the epistles of St. John, back to the Council of Nicaea. Words really matter and our use of them should reflect and echo the mind of God (as well as common sense, which is often almost the same thing!).

Let us never doubt or hesitate to profess Jesus Christ “the beloved Son,” and to love each other in him who has come to unite us to his eternal Father!

 

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