Ave Maria! Very recently, at the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus,
we heard Saint Paul say: “I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Very recently, at the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we heard Saint Paul say:
“I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
One of the great errors of the modern era is the notion that God is like a clock maker; that He made the world like a giant clock, wound up the spring, put the key in His pocket, and then walked away. The idea is that God created things, and then left them to run on their own.
Certainly, it is not hard to see how such an idea could lead to the pessimism and depression we associate with modern philosophies like existentialism. The immensity of the universe must present a terrifying prospect to those whose god has walked out of their lives. It has to be something like being an orphan; to grow up in a dizzyingly complex world without father and mother to protect and guide.
The Gospels tell us that the situation is quite different. God is not a clock maker, but, rather, He is our Father—the one who made all things, keeps them in existence through His continuous care, and who gently guides us from the moment of our conception.
He is the provider who feeds and clothes us, along with the lilies of the field and the birds of the air, as our Lord tells us elsewhere, in Saint Matthew's Gospel. “He knows that we need these things.” It is through His power that our multitudes are miraculously fed with the few barley loaves and fishes. It is this Father whom the Psalmist addresses when he gives thanks for the “wheat growing in the fields, oil to shine one's face, and wine to gladden the hearts of men.”
But it is important to understand that God is a Father is the very best sense of that word. He does not simply provide for us, in order that we might go about with no responsibility. No good father allows his children to go about living riotously, and doing as they please—indulging every whim. Rather, he gives his children work to do, errands to run, and tests to pass. He knows that he will build their character, only if he doesn't allow them to become lazy and self-indulgent.
This is what St. Paul is referring to in his Epistle to the Romans, which we read today. “The sufferings of this world are not worthy to be compared to the glory which is to come....” Everything on this earth is not made easy for us—sometimes things are very difficult. But to the degree that we accept our personal lot in life, and deal cheerfully with the tasks assigned us by our Father in heaven, we can expect the “crown of future glory.”
The Gospel today is representative. Later on Our Lord would guide Peter's boat over the Sea of Galilee through the storm. He didn't allow anything to harm His apostles. But notice, today, that he also didn't make the fish jump into the boat to feed them. Rather, He required them to “toil all night.” And, even then they caught nothing. But at His command, they put down their nets and caught a large number of fishes.
We would be as foolish to think that our Father intends to provide everything for us with no effort on our part—that He will over-ride the laws of His material universe to shelter us from all harm and inconvenience—just as it is foolish to think that God the watchmaker wound things up and walked away.
This, of course, should be a lesson and an example to those of us who are earthly fathers and mothers. We must never think that since we have established our households, we can just walk away. Certainly, we cannot walk away in the literal sense—but we also cannot let affairs run themselves without our constant guidance, and efforts to keep them running smoothly. Nor should we ever allow our children to simply do as they please, without regard to their formation as good Christian men and women. Above all, we must be certain never to withhold our love.
Christian men, especially, must understand that God made us larger and stronger than our women, precisely so that we can protect them and our children—and certainly not that we might exploit them or take advantage o them.
And we all are the children of our parents—we should remember that just as we are always called to honor God, we are likewise called to “honor our father and mother.” We are called to obey them in our youth, to make them proud of us as good Catholics and good citizens, to make their later years as pleasant as possible, and to remember them in our prayers when they have passed on.
As Saint Paul reminds us, every creature must—to some extent—expect to groan and travail in pain. That is part of our nature as material creatures. But we have the consolation of having our own parents to guide and comfort us. And, even more, of being “the adopted sons and daughters of God the Father, through the redemption of our body in Christ Jesus our Lord.”