One of our greatest aspirations in life is to grow into adults, realizing various beautiful potentials we cocoon, usually from the examples of those who act as models for us. Yet, in all of this, we seem to forget, or better still, side line an important aspect of our childhood experience; a period of potentiality in which we were filled with traits that ought to actualize greatness in us.
One truth is at the heart of the gospel, and Pope St. Leo the Great has quintessentially summed it up for us: “This is the gift that exceeds all others: God calls man his son, and man calls God ‘Father.’” As a matter of fact, we are God’s Children. This is not a metaphor, or an analogy, nor is it a slogan. It is something more real than the chair you are sitting on. When we received baptism, we were initiated or, if you like co-opted into the family of God, and as it were, as sons. At one and at the same time, we became eligible heirs to share and partake in the Trinitarian life of God. St. John speaking of this mystery, had no other apt manner of communicating this than as he exclaimed: “See what love the Father has given us, that we be called the children of God, and in fact, that is what we are” (cf. 1 Jn 3:1). In another place in the gospel, after the resurrection event, the Lord Jesus spoke thus, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God (Jn 20: 17).
By baptism, we became “sons in the Son.” This is what St. Paul referred to as our deification, or our divinization, as the ancient Christians called it. “The Son of God became a son of man,” St. Athanasius inspirely commends, “so that the sons of men might become sons of God.” Our contemporary responsibility is to recover this sense of awe, astonishment, wonder, and gratitude for the gift at the heart of our redemption. We are the Children of God. This is the most central and all-important Gospel at the heart of our redemption. Keep in mind that we are not merely forgiven; we are adopted as sons and daughters of God. There is a world’s difference between these two views. For instance, we may forgive someone who dupes us of a large sum of money, but hardly is it conceivable to adopt her/him into our family. As you think about that, yet, that is exactly what God has done for us: he forgave us our sins, so that we might find lasting home in the family we call Trinity. I dare to say that this divine filiation is the hallmark of an authentic catholic understand of the gospel, and to whom is the gospel more especial than to those for whom it has become the supreme rule of life.
Today, we celebrate what is popularly known as “Children’s Day.” In many places, children are given august receptions in parks, gardens, hotels and various rendezvous. However, we too are children, and children in a deeper sense, way beyond a childhood designated by age range. Let us learn those qualities typical of the heart of children so as to build childlike fraternities that will remain ever committed to the gospel: innocence, dependence, confidence in the presence of the Father, profound love, sincerity, transparency, obedience, trust, docility, to name but a few. Mary Immaculate, by and large, is the simplest and closest key to teach and assist us in this endeavour. She who is our mother and the daughter par excellence of God.
May the Good Lord grant us the courage to remain “Children” in the gospel, and an abundance of the breath of the Franciscan Spirit, so that we may always keep in mind that fact St. John speaks of, “…and that is what we truly are,” so that the world may come to realize what it essentially is, and tend towards it. Amen!!!