Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Blog # 136 FATHER 1

BLOG # 136 FATHER 1 The response of Jesus to the Father on earth and the response of the Eternal Word of God in the Blessed Trinity from all eternity to the Father can be identified as love. Jesus, the Word Incarnate, was like us in all but sin. Though divine and from all eternity united by divine love with the Father in the life of the Trinity, on earth Jesus , like us, was called to discover and respond to the Father's Presence here with us in the physical world, in people, and in the human experience of prayer. It was this response to which Jesus was referring when on the night before He died in obedience to the Father's plan Jesus said His obedience was evidence to all that He loved the Father. "...that all may know that I love the Father and do all the Father has commanded me to do. Let us be on our way." And He went to Gethsemani. His invitation was to all to join Him in His love. Not all would understand. Not all would be willing. So in the course of Jesus' life as given in the Gospels we find Him so perfectly obedient to the Father's will that all who heard Him speak and saw Him act should have known His love for the Father was the supreme value in His life. This was true because He knew, as God, and believed as one of us, there is but One God. There is no other. His response to the Father, and ours, could only be total love. Nothing and no-one could take the Father's place as Creator of all. No-one could assume the Father's authority or His Name. "Do not call anyone on earth your Father. Only One is your Father, the One in Heaven". (Mt 23: 9). What then of the practice in the Catholic Church of referring to a priest as Father? Is this idolatry, arrogance, disobedience, stupidity, or what? It is certainly a long and well established tradition. Particularly here in the southern part of the United States it has been and cotinues to be a problem of such proportions as to preclude on the part of many any serious possibility of investigating and discovering the richness of our Catholic faith, history, and tradition. It should be quite evident the theme of the passage of Scripture from which the above quote from Matthew is taken is not the phrase about using the word Father for anyone other than God. Rather Jesus is speaking against the false pride, arrogance and hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees to whom He addressed His words. However, since the practice of referring to a priest as Father is such an obstacle for many believing fellow-Christians around us, it might be well for us to take this occasion to address the problem. With little effort I think we can find basic agreement. Our apparent disagreement would seem to stem from lack of information rather than actual differences in theology or disobedience to the word of God in the Bible. All that we ask of anyone who would want to enter into discussion with us with regard to any justification of the practice on our part is an open mind, a willingness to accept our word as sincere, and a prayer for the light of truth. First of all it should be very clear we as Catholics profess a faith in One God , Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. There is no other God. Statues are not God. Mary, the mother of Jesus, is not God. Angels and Saints are not God. The Pope, priests, nuns, rituals are not God. Not being God they nether deserve nor are offered the praise thanks adoration and worship we offer to God alone. We do not accept or believe in any competitor for God's glory. We do not even come close to being tempted way from our conviction or practice here. The official texts of the Mass illustrate and give clear evidence of our consciousness of the Father's place in our life, our love, and our devotedness to Him. Here are some samples from the texts of the prayers of the Mass. "Father, it is our duty and our salvation always and everywhere to give You thanks..." "Father, it is right we should give You thanks and glory; You are the One God, living and true." "We come to You, Father with praise and thanksgiving through Jesus Christ Your Son." "Father, You are holy indeed, and all creation rightly gives You praise." "Our Father...hallowed be Thy Name...Thy will be done..." And the final words of the most solemn part of the Mass: "Through Him (Jesus), with Him, in Him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is Yours, Almighty Father, for ever and ever. Amen!" We are in direct personal relationship with the Father through Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. We recognize in the Father a worthiness of our entire love. This Jesus has taught us. In His Name we believe and respond to Our Father in awe. Yet we do have to take Matthew 23: 9 into account. I will try to do that in Blog 137 tomorrow.

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