Children of God

Fourth Sunday of Easter.

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

In the second reading for this Sunday from the First Letter of St. John, he reminds us that we are called and indeed we are children of God. All of us, without exception. Every single one of us was created in his image and likeness and shares with Christ in our common human nature.

Last week, Pope Francis published an Apostolic Exhortation on the call to holiness in the modern world entitled Gaudete et Exsultate, “Rejoice and be glad.” In it he offers some practical considerations about the way in which we are to live our most fundamental vocation in life, communion with God, holiness. The Holy Father points out that regardless of any other consideration, we can see the face of God in every human being because we are children of God, his beloved creatures called to communion with Him.

He says: “God infinitely transcends us; he is full of surprises. We are not the ones to determine when and how we will encounter him; the exact times and places of that encounter are not up to us. Someone who wants everything to be clear and sure presumes to control God’s transcendence.

Nor can we claim to say where God is not, because God is mysteriously present in the life of every person, in a way that he himself chooses, and we cannot exclude this by our presumed certainties. Even when someone’s life appears completely wrecked, even when we see it devastated by vices or addictions, God is present there.”

How can God not be present in every human being, if he shares with each and every one of us our common human nature? How can that not be if we bear his image, we are the works of his hands?

Even though sin defaces the image of God in us because it dehumanizes us, it can never completely eliminate our human condition, which, again as Pope Francis points out in his encyclical on the care of our common home, it is given to us as pure gift, it is vulnerable, frail, it is called to grandeur but also imposes on us certain limits.

Sadly, in our times dominated by popular culture is suffused by ideologies who fail to realize this fact, namely, radical individualism and “gender theory.” They lead many people to reject human nature present in them and in others claiming that human beings are completely autonomous, can radically determine themselves to be whatever they want to be. They further claim that any reference to human nature is purely ideological or the product of cultural constraints and atavisms. Others imbued with individualism see in those who are suffering, or struggling with disease and addiction a “burden” that ought to be eliminated or at best left behind as they pursue their own form of “success and self-realization.”

Again, Pope Francis comments on this ideologies in his latest document: “I regret that ideologies lead us at times to two harmful errors. On the one hand, there is the error of those Christians who separate these Gospel demands from their personal relationship with the Lord, from their interior union with him, from openness to his grace. Christianity thus becomes a sort of NGO stripped of the luminous mysticism so evident in the lives of Saint Francis of Assisi, Saint Vincent de Paul, Saint Teresa of Calcutta, and many others. For these great saints, mental prayer, the love of God and the reading of the Gospel in no way detracted from their passionate and effective commitment to their neighbors; quite the opposite.

The other harmful ideological error is found in those who find suspect the social engagement of others, seeing it as superficial, worldly, secular, materialist, communist or populist. Or they relativize it, as if there are other more important matters, or the only thing that counts is one particular ethical issue or cause that they themselves defend. Our defense of the innocent unborn, for example, needs to be clear, firm and passionate, for at stake is the dignity of a human life, which is always sacred and demands love for each person, regardless of his or her stage of development. Equally sacred, however, are the lives of the poor, those already born, the destitute, the abandoned and the underprivileged, the vulnerable infirm and elderly exposed to covert euthanasia, the victims of human trafficking, new forms of slavery, and every form of rejection. We cannot uphold an ideal of holiness that would ignore injustice in a world where some revel, spend with abandon and live only for the latest consumer goods, even as others look on from afar, living their entire lives in abject poverty.”

God teaches us that each and every one of us, regardless of any other consideration, is precious in his sight, created by Him for our own sake and called to communion with Him.

He loves us so very much that He embraced our common human nature, entered into solidarity with us unto death, rose victorious from the dead to rescue us from the jaws of sin and death and as a good shepherd leads the way so that we can enter the fullness of life. All of us. He desires that all be saved and gave up his life for that cause! He wants us all to be holy because all of us are indeed children of God created in his image and likeness!

Fr. Roberto M. Cid