Jesus made known to us what the Father made known to him. He calls us “friends” because we are the Father’s friends. The way Jesus loves us reveals to us what Abba-Father is like. We long to be embraced by and protected by his fatherhood, but there’s a disconnect we need to overcome. So Jesus wants to give us healing from the wrong images we have of God’s Fatherhood.
No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. (Luke 10:22 NIV)
Which Person of the Holy Trinity feels closest to you? Who has the deepest relationship with you? Whom do you turn to first?
For most of us, it’s not the Father.
Jesus is our Friend, our Brother, our Savior. He’s the center of our worship during Mass. He’s the one we receive in the Eucharist. We can easily visualize him by reading the Gospels. We’re reminded of what he did for us every time we gaze upon crucifixes in church and at home. Jesus has been the subject of artwork far more often than any other Person of the Trinity—he was so human!
Perhaps it’s the Holy Spirit who’s the most difficult to feel close to. The Holy Spirit is, after all, called a “spirit”, and this sounds so ethereal, so other-worldly, so intangible. And yet, if we’ve been through a Life in the Spirit Seminar or if we’ve had other experiences of good faith formation about the Third Person of the Trinity, he is the one we rely on for understanding and wisdom, for the right words to speak as Jesus promised (see Luke 12:12), and for help in our efforts to grow in holiness. The Holy Spirit is known as The Helper—how nice!
God the Father is the scary one. We think of him as the one who punishes us when we sin. We believe that he expects perfection from us. And he’s too far away up there in heaven to help us with our little daily problems. Right?
I had a wonderful relationship with Jesus since my earliest childhood, as far back as I can recall. I grew up believing that Jesus was my Best Friend. When I felt lonely, I turned to Jesus. When I felt misunderstood by my father, Jesus sat with me in my room while I cried on my bed. When I forgot a homework deadline and felt panicked and sick to my stomach about it, I knew that Jesus loved me anyway. He encouraged me to do better, building my confidence (not my guilt).
God the Father, on the other hand, could increase my guilt (a mistaken idea that we’ll cover more fully in future chapters). I thought of him as The Big Disciplinarian. He loved me, of course, in the same way that all parents who discipline their children are loving them when they scold and dole out punishments. I reasoned that, because I got enough discipline from my dad, why should I spend any time with God the Father? My parents didn’t offer me friendship, so it never occurred to me that I could have a friendship with God as my Father…..
God can only be known by our hearts, the center of our soul, where love resides. He cannot be known by the mind because he is much more than we could ever imagine: much better, much more caring, much more available to fill in the gaps left by insufficient human love. To grasp the “more” of him requires that we abandon all of our incorrect ideas, images and concepts of God. To enter into his healing embrace, we must overcome misconceptions. We must stop projecting human images onto the Abba-Father.
Day 2 on the journey includes:
- God is not your enemy
- Healing begins
- The Box of Differentiation
- God, why have You abandoned me?
© 2021 by Terry A. Modica