God the Father
“I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth…” Every week at Mass we say these words but I think a lot of us simply glance over it without thinking. But I think it is a crucial factor that we miss, that every time we declare what we believe as a Church, we begin by declaring God to be our Father. But who is God the Father?
Some of us probably have some great stories about our Dads. Some of us may not. I find myself in the latter category. I really have no stories with a happy ending with my dad. I come from a broken family. My dad left my mom and I when I was 6 months old and from that point forward I only saw him a few times a year: Christmas, my birthday, and maybe the family fishing derby in the summertime, and even when I went to those events, I ended up being sat at the kids’ table and never got quality time with my dad. I always felt like I was stuck in a Disney movie at Father-Son Camp, where you see the fathers having fun with their sons, going fishing catching the biggest fish, and I’m still on the dock trying to put a worm on the hook. My mom who had converted to Catholicism a couple years before I was born was left to raise me, however she was quite ill, and without a job due to that. My grandparents did a lot to support and raise me, of which I am really thankful. All of that being said, I really did not have a “normal” upbringing. Life was tough, I’m not gonna lie. Perhaps some of you can relate.
As I grew older, I began to really question my Catholic faith. Though my mom was passionate about the faith, I thought she was a whack job. I really began to struggle with the question of suffering and the existence of a loving God. Perhaps you guys have had the same question – if God loves us so much, why does He allow us to suffer? Why does hell exist? Is God actually a good God?
I got to the point where I completely rejected the idea that God loved me and that He even existed. Looking back, I can see that I projected alot of how I felt about my own dad onto my idea of who God was – I believed He was disinterested, uncaring, and most definitely did not love me. From that point, I found myself in a real downward spiral. I became angry and found myself becoming increasingly depressed. I started listening to some pretty bad music and hanging with the wrong friends. I was made fun of a lot at school. I lost a lot of self esteem. I even considered suicide. But even though I gave up on God, He never gave up on me.
In grade 7, things drastically changed and God showed up in my life in an incredible way. I attended a Catholic youth praise and worship night in the States. I did not want to be there, but went because it meant I could get out of school. As the music started, I started to let down my guard a bit. As I did, I suddenly out of nowhere felt something that I had never felt before. I felt God’s love. I knew in the span of a moment that God did in fact love me with a crazy intense love. From that moment my question of about why suffering existed, and whether God was good, was answered. I left that night completely changed.
In that moment, God revealed Himself in a powerful way. I knew in that moment that I was loved by God who IS love. I came to understand in that moment what happened in Genesis. You guys are familiar with the story. Adam and Eve are chillin’ with God in the Garden. Things are going good – they are in perfect and sinless union with God, but the devil tempts Eve to disbelieve what God had said and she takes a bite of the fruit that they were told not to eat and then goes and shares it with Adam. Suddenly things get weird, and now death enters the world and things are no longer easy. Adam and Eve realize they are naked and hide from God. God calls them out and banishes them from Eden. Before I encountered God I thought, “What a mean guy”. But once I encountered the love of God the Father, I realized this was not God’s punishment at all.
God gave us free will. He did not make us robots. He created the world perfect and told us that we needed to remain obedient to His command. Like a good Father who tells his child not to touch the burner on the stove because it will burn your hand, God gave us the choice, but asked us not to disobey his command, because the consequences would be very bad for us. But He still gave us the choice. He did not want to make us robots that could only do good things. What kind of dad forces his kid to love and obey him? He desired that we love Him because we wanted to. To obey Him because we love Him and trust that what He says is true.
As Catholics we believe that God is three distinct people but one divine nature- this mystery is what we call The Blessed Trinity- God the Father, God the Son-Jesus, and God the Holy Spirit. All of them are three different people, but their nature is God. This is a deep mystery and one that would take a whole other Epicnight to discuss. This is why we are focussing particularly on God the Father. But some things to note is that The three persons of the Trinity that have always existed before time even began and will for all eternity. The three of them love each other so much that they are a community of love. They within themselves had no need for us. They were completely happy in that relationship, BUT they chose to create us because they desired to share their love with us.
The Catechism tells us CCC #239 We ought therefore to recall that God transcends the human distinction between the sexes. He is neither man nor woman: he is God. He also transcends human fatherhood and motherhood, although he is their origin and standard: [Cf. Ps 27:10; Eph 3:14; Isa 49:15] no one is father as God is Father.
So when we fell in the garden, the Lord could have been like “Peace out creation – forget you” and poof we’d be gone, wiped from history. But He didn’t. Instead He promised to redeem us, and restore the relationship we had with Him. And how did He do this?
The Father gave us the one personal that He loved the most-His Son, Jesus. Jesus became man, took on our human nature in everything but sin, and took all of our sins past present and future upon Him and taking the punishment we deserved for it, nailed it to the Cross. The Father loves us so much that He gave us the one thing He loved the most to suffer and to die for us. This is a Father crazy in love with us. Jesus willing accepted the cross, and loved us with that same love of the Father, and that was what spurred Him on to become sin for us and die in our place. Jesus ensured that the rift that we caused by sin between ourselves and God would now be repaired and that we could be with them forever if we chose to follow Him. The promise God made after we fell in the garden was now repaired by Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ reveals God the Father to us as Tertullian who was an early Church father from the 1st century says “The expression God the Father had never been revealed to anyone. When Moses himself asked God who he was, he heard another name. The Father’s name has been revealed to us in the Son, for the name “Son” implies the new name “Father.” (Tertullian, De Orat., 3:PL 1,1155)
The Catechism teaches us that CCC #2780 We can invoke God as “Father” because he is revealed to us by his Son become man and because his Spirit makes him known to us. The personal relation of the Son to the Father is something that man cannot conceive of nor the angelic powers even dimly see: and yet, the Spirit of the Son grants a participation in that very relation to us who believe that Jesus is the Christ and that we are born of God. (Cf. Jn 1:1; 1 Jn 5:1.)
So God loves us personally and is willing to go to the furthest point to prove this. But being a good dad, He still continues to give us the choice. Suffering exists not because He has ever wanted it, but because we continue to reject Him and what we were created to be, and so sin infects the world and causes suffering. We continue to put our hand on the burner even though He calls us not to. It’s not a punishment, but simply a natural reaction to ignoring what we were created to be. God calls us to be free and experience that freedom, but we choose to enslave ourselves by rejecting Him and the Freedom we were created to have.
So in that moment in Michgian, I realized for the first time that God really did love me- personally. At that moment, I was like, “Jesus, I know now that You really do love me. I don’t know how to do this whole Catholic thing, but what I do know is that I want to love you back and have a friendship with You. I give my heart to you, because I know I can trust You with it”. From that moment, my life changed forever and it’s been one crazy and beautiful adventure.
My personal relationship with God grew. And as it grew, the more I realized how good of a dad God the Father really is. He had been there all along, supporting me and loving me, even when I had rejected Him. He would never leave me abandoned.
God the Father ridiculously loves each and every single one of you personally. He longs to show His love to you; To pour it out on you like a good dad. He has given everything to try to win your love, including that which He loved the most, His Son. Jesus tells us, “if you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father”. The Cross is the love of God the Father shown to the whole world. We may have stories of good fathers. We may have stories of bad dads.
God desires us to be able to call Him our Daddy- or in the Hebrew, Abba.A quick story. I had read the Scripture from romans 8:15, “For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” I knew Abba meant father in Aramaic but I didn’t really understand what this verse meant until one time in Montreal. I was in an elevator of a busy hotel in downtown Montreal. The door opened and boy who was about 2 and a half and his father came on the elevator. After a few quiet moments, the silence of the elevator was broken with the wimpers of this little boy, who started to tug on his dad’s shirt and said “Abba-Abba”. To us, we would say, Papa, or daddy. The father looked at the son and reached down and picked him up in his arms. The kid was so happy to be loved by his father. It made sense. This is how were are to approach God the Father but this is also how He approaches us.
If you’ve had questions, and you don’t know him as a good Father, ask God the Father to prove that He is who He says He is. He is a Father who always keeps His promises and I guarantee if you seek him with your whole heart, you’ll find Him, and he’ll come running!