The Catholic Faith in Slow Motion (no 39)
Dignity and Destiny (part one)
See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called Children of God… Beloved, we are God’s children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when Christ appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. And everyone who so hopes in Christ purifies himself, as he is pure (First Letter of John 3:1-3).
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory (Paul’s Letter to the Colossians 3:1-4).
The Paradox of Christian Self-regard…
It’s sometime said of a man (and not as a compliment), “He thinks too much of himself; he could do with a dose of humility.” But consider the words above from St. John and St. Paul. From their perspective, the man’s real problem is that he thinks too little of himself. In fact, humility in the Christian sense does not derive from a lesser sense of self but from an almost unthinkably high self-regard. Perhaps you have sometimes chastised yourself: “I want too much in life. I need to reign in my expectations.” But from the perspective of the Christian gospel, almost all of us want far too little out of life.
In order to be the self we are meant to be, we must desire all that God wishes to give us. And the only personal humility that is rooted in reality, is the humility that openheartedly receives the dignity God has bestowed on us. See what love the Father has given us that we should be called Children of God (Jn. 3:1).
Our End is in Our Beginning…
“Let us make man in our own image, after our likeness…. In the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Gen. 1:26, 27) - a creature like God, a creature in the image of God, as a child is so mysteriously an image of his or her parents. A human being is not simply a creature infinitely more intelligent and capable than other creatures, not simply the highest animal species, but a creature called to live in intimate friendship with the Creator, even to share the eternal life of the Creator!
Such dignity is the particular and unique grace within human creature-hood. Can the grace be diminished, refused, squandered? Yes, for a certain autonomy, a mysterious freedom, is inherent in the gift. Sin, idolatry, hardness of heart: these are the names of that dark refusal by which a human being abandons the gift of God-likeness, and so abandons a truly human life.
Christ our Dignity and Destiny
The story of Jesus Christ is the story of the Creator’s refusal to abandon the gift of God-likeness. In Jesus Christ, the true Image and Likeness of God appears and is lifted up in our midst. Only so can we begin to see what love the Father has shown us, that we should be called the Children of God.
(to be continued)
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