Within the drama of man’s relationship with God before and after the fall, one constant has always remained, that God desires you and I to be with Him in heaven. There is a direct and pressing need that Our Father exhibits to bring us back home to him from our wayward life. A good father would want to rescue or resuscitate his child away from the perverted calamities of life. Surprisingly to some, the Catechism of the Catholic Church provides us with many beautiful dialogical sequences, the following articles (703-708) express God’s desired intention to be in communion with us and prepare us for Heaven. One of the first descriptions we encounter is that His Word and Breath are the basis of our existence.
Another sequence we encounter in the Catechism is the description that God fashioned man with His own hands in reference to Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. He impressed his own form on the flesh he had fashioned in such a way that even what was visible might bear the divine form. In reference to a description of Man in relation to the Incarnation, St. Irenaeus is quoted as a way to describe our identity as possessing His image and likeness. The culmination of this doctrinal sequence on creation is that we are made to reflect the image and likeness of our Father. Though we possess the image of God we still lack his glory due to the mark of original sin that still permeates our intellect and will.
As our intellect, and will struggle to believe in God and develop a relationship with Him, God made a promise that the Son would assume the image of man and be fully divine and fully human. This restoration of our identity with God is initiated by the Son of God Jesus Christ who became man in all things except sin to resuscitate our path away from sin and toward our eternal home. In the Son, we encounter the fullness of God’s love for us through the offering of His Son who willingly offered himself as a sacrifice for our sins. St. John Paul II in his encyclical letter Redemptor Hominis reminds us that:
Man cannot live without love. He remains a being that is incomprehensible for himself, his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter love, if he does not experience it and make it his own, if he does not participate intimately in it. This, as has already been said, is why Christ the Redeemer “fully reveals man to himself.” If we may use the expression, this is the human dimension of the mystery of the redemption. In this dimension man finds again the greatness, dignity and value that belong to his humanity. In the mystery of the redemption man becomes newly “expressed” and, in a way, is newly created. He is newly created! “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”(64) The man who wishes to understand himself thoroughly — and not just in accordance with immediate, partial, often superficial, and even illusory standards and measures of his being — he must with his unrest, uncertainty and even his weakness and sinfulness, with his life and death, draw near to Christ. He must, so to speak, enter into Him with all his own self, he must “appropriate” and assimilate the whole of the reality of the Incarnation and Redemption in order to find himself.
Redemptor Hominis is a very important document to read, discern, and pray because it helps us, I argue to see God’s Divine outlook and intention for us as a loving father and pedagogue. What I mean by pedagogue is God’s actions as both Father and teacher in how he reveals his truth and love for us in a way that can be understood and embraced through our human nature. An example of this love is the exposition of the Law or Rule of Faith of how to love God and our neighbor.
If the heart speaks to the heart, echoing the premise of the kerygma and the creed from St. Francis De Sales and faithfully applied by his disciple St. John Bosco, our aim as pedagogues is to lead others toward a deep knowledge of God’s love. This entire schema will enable us to battle the sin of indifference where our identity with God would be viewed as insignificant. Hence, we no longer view ourselves as being distinct children of God made in his image and likeness.
The First Commandment reveals the Divine Pedagogue’s intention of how much he truly loves us and that he desires that we reciprocate that love to Him and our fellow neighbor. The theological virtues of faith, hope, and love serve as the pathway toward loving God and neighbor. The premise of these virtues is to strengthen the desire to seek a deep and loving knowledge of the Father and hence a loving relationship with Him as part of our responsibility to be partakers in the divine nature of God. In his epistle, St. Peter fittingly reminds us of our duty as children of God to know Him more intimately,
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, that through these you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of passion, and become partakers of the divine nature.
2 Pt 1:3-4
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