Ecumenical Corner

March, 1999

God the Father’s Love
Ernest Falardeau, SSS

"God the Father loved the world into being. Though the world has spurned Him, He has sent the Son and the Spirit to call the world back into His loving embrace. As the Father is our beginning, He must also become our destination." (TMA #49)

When Pope John Paul II proposed a five year span of preparation for the Third Millennium that seemed a long way off. Indeed even as we marked off the last three years of immediate preparation for the Jubilee Year 2000, it still did not seem very real. But now that we date our letters and checks with 1999, we know we are terribly close to the Third Millennium. This is the final year of preparation, the Year of the Father. Having prayed for faith and hope, we now ask for love.

The Father’s Love

The love of God the Father is the beginning of everything. It was out of love that he created the world. God did not want to be alone. He wanted all of creation to share his very being and his happiness. And so we are. After billions of light years of evolution, human beings exist - "stuff of the stars", as Charles Sagan was fond of reminding us. We know the Father, our Creator.

He made us, men and women, in his own image and likeness. Like God we can know and love. We can create and transform. Art, music, poetry, bridges and buildings, classrooms and offices, and a myriad of other marvelous things are all within the creative power of human beings. We can create war and peace. We can make mathematical theories and theological treatises. We can develop a philosophy or a symphony. But we are not the center of the universe. God is. Everything exists is for his glory.

In our reflection this year, we must rediscover the center of gravity, the center of the universe. And that center is God. The sin of origin is thinking that we are God, that we can replace God with our own idols, our own needs, our own desires.

"Thy will be done" is an important petition of the Lord’s Prayer. It tells us that above our own will and goals, we must seek God’s will "on earth as it is in heaven". The Father’s will is not arbitrary or despotic. It is loving. He wants us to be happy with him in heaven forever. Like any good parent who has seen life at its beginning and its end, the Father knows best. He is eternal and knows what eternal happiness is like. It is life without end, no tears, no struggle, no sin, no death, only God’s glory forever.

The Father So Loved the World

The entire focus of the preparation for the millennium is on Christ. The Father sent the Son and Spirit to redeem us, because we had turned our backs on God. We need conversion, "to be turned back again". And so the Son reveals the Father’s love. He incorporates it. And the Son sends the Spirit to be with us, to teach us to say "Abba/Father". In the Spirit and by the grace of God, we are God’s children, brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ.

In this year of the Father, we recall the Father’s love in the love of Christ "unto the end". "Greater love than this no one has, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends"(Jn 15:13). The Son is the perfect image of the Father. When we see the Son, we see the Father. When we see the Son’s love on the cross, we see the Father’s eternal love for us.

The year 2000 will be a celebration of redemption, salvation in Jesus Christ. We will remember and give thanks that the Father loved us so much. This year helps us to put that celebration in focus.

The Father’s love has been poured into our hearts by the Spirit. And the Spirit has been given to us by the Son. The Spirit is the gift of Jesus Christ. The Spirit is the Father’s gift, his abiding presence in us. The Spirit makes us children of the Father, and able to return the Father’s love with a love that is divine.

A Pilgrimage to the Father’s House

Pope John Paul II in his two millennial encyclicals reminds us that we are a people on pilgrimage. When we think of a thousand years, we realize how short and fragile our existence is. We do not have a lasting home on earth. We are on pilgrimage to our heavenly home.

The Holy Father reminds us that we are sojourners. We are like the prodigal son who is never at home until he returns to the Father. The Father longs for his son’s return. He looks out the window daily to see if his son is returning. He goes out to meet him. His love is poured out upon him as he welcomes him home.

The Father is our beginning and must be our destination. When we travel, it is important to know our final destination. Where are we going, how will we get there, what do we need to assure our arrival? These are important questions that always need to be borne in mind.

Christian Unity

In the mind of Pope John Paul II the celebration of the Jubilee Year and the Third Millennium is an ecumenical opportunity. The unity of all human kind is the ultimate end that he is pursuing. He will pray with Muslims and Jews in Jerusalem. He will celebrate an international ecumenical gathering. He will preside at the International Eucharistic Congress in Rome. These events will provide a setting for him to bring the message that we are all God’s children. We must live in peace and work together to assure that we do not wander or faint on the way. The Father is our beginning and final destination. May we continue our journey together with Christ, in the Spirit, to the glory of God the Father.

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