Children of God – Part 1 of 4

Jesus Blessing the Children by Bernhard Plockhorst

Here and in the next three posts Father Cassilly explores the unique filial relationship between God and His human sons and daughters. He writes: “From man’s participation in the Divine nature results a special relationship, the existence of which might not have been suspected.”

Relationships give rise to affection. Bonds of affection, he explains, are “generally much closer between members of the same family, between brother and sister, parent and child, than where no blood relationship exists.”

As for the relationship between God and human persons, he says: “We have often heard that we are children of God, and in the prayer taught by Christ Himself, and which we say every day, we address God as ‘Our Father,’ and toward Him we have a real filial affection. But, if taken unawares and asked whether these expressions were to be understood literally, whether they implied anything more than the existence of an intimate mutual affection between us and God, we should perhaps be at a loss to answer.” Hence, the question: “Is there any real sense in which we are God’s children and members of His family?”

“The Apostle of love tells us: ‘Behold what manner of charity the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called and should be the sons of God. . . . Dearly beloved, we are now the sons of God.’ (1 John 3:1-2) St. Paul sent the following inspired words to the Romans: ‘Whosoever are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. . . . You have received the spirit of adoption of sons whereby we cry Abba (Father).’ (Rom 8:14-15) . . . The Council of Trent calls justification ‘a translation to the state of grace, and of the adoption of the sons of God’ (Session 6, Chap. 4).”

“The reiterated assertion of Scripture and Council that we are the adopted sons of God, without any attempt to gloss its meaning, seems to imply that this relationship between God and the just man is something more than a mere figure of speech, that it is true in some genuine sense. The Eternal Son is generated by the Father, from Whom all paternity in heaven and on earth is named. But this perfect Sonship is, of course, for a multiplicity of reasons, precluded to creatures.”

Quotations from Francis Cassilly, A Story of Love, 2d ed. (St. Louis: B. Herder, 1917).

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