This Vatican Information Service piece provides an overview of the Holy Father’s general audience, given earlier today, which focuses on the Fatherhood of God. Noteworthy here is the reference to divine sonship—”He has blessed us and chosen us before the foundation of the world. He has truly made us His children in Jesus”—a theme that appears often in the writings in Benedict XVI but is not often mentioned.
Vatican City, 30 January 2013 (VIS) – The first and most fundamental definition that the Creed teaches us about God is that He is the Almighty Father. This was the theme of Benedict XVI’s Wednesday catechesis during today’s general audience that was held in the Paul VI Audience Hall.
“It isn’t always easy today to speak about fatherhood,” the Pope began, “…and, not having adequate role models, it even becomes problematic to imagine God as a father. For those who have had the experience of an overly authoritarian and inflexible father, or an indifferent, uncaring, or even absent one, it is not easy to calmly think of God as Father or to confidently surrender themselves to Him. But Biblical revelation helps us to overcome these difficulties by telling us about a God who shows us what it truly means to be a ‘father’. Above all it is the Gospel that reveals to us this face of God as Father, who loves us even to the point of giving us the gift of His Son for the salvation of humanity.”
In the light of the Scriptures and the writings of the evangelists, the Holy Father explained that God is our Father because “He has blessed us and chosen us before the foundation of the world. He has truly made us His children in Jesus. And, as Father, God accompanies our existence with love, giving us His Word, His teaching, His grace, His Spirit. …If He is so good as to ‘make His sun rise on the bad and the good and … rain to fall on the just and the unjust’, then we can always, without fear and in complete faith, entrust ourselves to His forgiveness as Father when we choose the wrong path.”
Tracing the history of salvation, Psalm 136 repeats “for his mercy endures forever”, and the pontiff emphasized, “The love of God the Father never fails, never tires of us. … Faith gives us this certainty that becomes the sure rock upon which to build our lives. We can face every difficulty and every danger, the experience of the darkness of times of crisis and pain, sustained by the confidence that God does not abandon us and is always near to save us and bring us to everlasting life.”
The kind face of the Father who is in heaven is fully shown in the Lord Jesus. “Knowing Him we know the Father and seeing Him we can see the Father. … Faith in God the Father requires that we believe in the Son, through the action of the Spirit, recognizing the Cross that saves as the definitive revelation of divine love. God is our Father, forgiving our sins and bringing us to the joy of the risen life.”
“We can ask ourselves, how is it possible to imagine an all-powerful God by looking at the Cross of Christ? … We would certainly like a divine omnipotence that corresponded to our thoughts and our desires; an ‘almighty’ God … who vanquishes our adversaries, who changes the course of events, and who takes away our pain. … Faced with evil and suffering, … it is difficult for many of us to believe in God the Father and to believe that He is all-powerful.”
“Faith in God the Almighty, however, leads us to follow very different paths: learning to understand that God’s thoughts and God’s paths are different from ours and that even His omnipotence is different―it isn’t expressed with mechanical or arbitrary force… Actually, God, in creating free creatures, in giving us freedom, gave up a part of His power, allowing us the power of our freedom. Thus He loves and respects love’s free response to His call. His omnipotence isn’t expressed in violence or destruction but rather through love, mercy, and forgiveness; through His tireless call to a change of heart, through an attitude that is only weak in appearance, and which is made of patience, clemency, and love.”
“Only the truly powerful can endure evil and show compassion. Only the truly powerful can fully exercise the power of love. And God, to whom all things belong because He made them all, reveals His strength by loving everything and everyone, patiently awaiting our conversion because He wants us as His children. …The omnipotence of love isn’t a worldly power, but is that of total gift and Jesus, the Son of God, reveals to the world the Father’s true omnipotence by giving His life for us sinners. This is the true … divine power: responding to evil not with evil but with good, responding to murderous hatred with a love that gives life. Evil is thus truly vanquished, because it is washed by God’s love. Death is thus definitively defeated, because it is transformed into the gift of life. God the Father resurrects His Son. Death, the great enemy, is swallowed up and deprived of its sting and we are freed from sin; we can grasp our reality as children of God.”
“So, when we say ‘I believe in God, the Father Almighty’, we express our faith in the power of God’s love who―in His Son who died and rose again―conquers hate, evil, and sin and gives us eternal life, a life as children who desire to remain forever in the ‘Father’s House’.”