Father Daniel Meynen
We inaugurate a new year preparatory to the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000! This year will assuredly be the most important to prepare us for this unique event, since, being the closest to the Jubilee, it will be much more present in our memory when we will celebrate this anniversary of the birth of Christ.
During the year consecrated to the Holy Spirit, I glanced into various epistles of Saint Paul, commenting one after the other the most meaningful passages in which the great Apostle of the Nations speaks of the Spirit of God. I shall continue in the same way this year, beginning with the epistle to the Ephesians. Saint Paul tells us: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. He destined us in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved." (Ep. 1:3-6)
This passage of Saint Paul is altogether characteristic for making us discover who is our Father, the one who has sent us his Son, so that he should give us the eternal life through his redeeming sacrifice of the Calvary. The Father is he who "has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places" ; and he is the one whom Saint Paul invites to bless: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." The notion of "blessing," or the "act of blessing," is used as a reciprocal relation between the Father and us.
"To bless" comes from the Latin "bene dicere," that is to say "to say something good," or "to say rightfully." It amounts to saying that, when blessing God, we say to him some good, we say to him a good word. Similarly, when the Father blesses us, or fills us with his blessing, we receive from him a good word. Now, which good word can the Father say to us, if not the one who is similar to him, his Word, his eternal Son. However, as it is absolutely the Christ, as God, who is veritably the unique Word of the Father, when we receive from God the Father his spiritual blessing, we do receive this unique Word of the Father only as participation, and not in fullness.
The blessing of the Father is a "spiritual" blessing: He "has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places." Now, in the Most Holy Trinity, if all the persons are "Spirit," it is more particularly the third Person, the Holy Spirit, who appears to us as being spiritual. Saint Paul seems to imply it when he says: "For what person knows a man's thoughts except the spirit of the man which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God." (1 Cor. 2:11) Thus, the blessing of the Father, although fundamentally rooted in Christ in person, possesses the proper characteristic of the Spirit of God.
Saint Paul confirms that what we have just said: "He destined us in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will." Love, will, two notions quite peculiar to the Holy Spirit : he is the Love in person, he proceeds from the Father and from the Son by way of will. In this sense, if it is the Word of God who is given to us in participation when the Father blesses us, it is first and foremost the gift of the Holy Spirit which we receive. And, insofar as we respond to this gift of the Spirit, the Father gives us share with us his good Word and blesses us in Christ.
Indeed, the gift of the Spirit is nothing else than the love of God towards us: "He destined us in love." Now, to the love of God, we can (that is to say, we have the power and the possibility) freely answer this love with charity towards God and towards the neighbor. There is therefore a condition, which God already foresaw in Christ ("He destined us . . ."), so that we may be blessed by the Father. As our charity towards God and the neighbor could be more or less fervent, there is a proportion between our loveís answer and the fact of our blessing by the Father.
Our loveís answer to the Father must be a continual answer, till the end of our life on earth. But the love of God, the gift of the Holy Spirit, urges us and stimulates us constantly to give to the Father this loveís answer. For God knew in advance our loveís answer: it is in this vision that he gives us his own love, sure of receiving in appropriate time the answer which he waits for. But all this can be laborious and difficult for the man or the woman whom God wants to fulfill in such a way. Don't we give the blessing of God while doing a sign of cross on the one whom we are blessing?
The Father loves us in his Son: he sends us his Spirit of love to make us participant in his own life. Our answer of love will be without end, for if we thus persevere up to the end, we will hear eternally this word of Christ who says: "Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." (Mt. 25:34)
We will continue our reading of Saint Paul the next time, if it pleases God . . .
Page n.2 about God the Father
We began our study on God the Father by commenting the first verses of the epistle of Saint Paul to the Ephesians. Here is what the Apostle says while carrying on: "I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power in us who believe, according to the working of his great might." (Ep.1:16-19)
God the Father appears here like "the Father of glory," that is to say He who brings glory and who gives it. Christ had himself affirmed, praying to his Father: "Now, Father, glorify thou me in thy own presence with the glory which I had with thee before the world was made." (John 17:5) This glorification of Christ by the Father is accomplished in the Holy Spirit: "When the Spirit of truth comes, . . . He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you." (Jn. 16:13-14)
If the glorification of Christ is accomplished in the Holy Spirit, then, the glorification of the believers in Christ by the Father is also accomplished in the Holy Spirit, and therefore also in the spirit of each believer; that is why Saint Paul says: "That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation." This amounts to saying that there is a certain similarity between the glorification of Christ and that of the Christians. Jesus himself confirmed it when he said to his Father: "The glory which thou hast given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one." (John 17:22)
Glory is a fame won by great achievements. Thus, the Father glorifies the Christ in the Holy Spirit by making known by his grace the merits of his Son dead and risen for all men called to salvation. It is the same for the Christians whom the Father wants to glorify in his Holy Spirit. The glory of Christ and of the Christians are therefore made up by "words of grace" (Luke 4:22) spread in the spirits of men destined to become sons of God in Christ. The glory of Christ and that of the Christians allow the Father to create brothers and sisters to his unique Son.
For the one who is struck by the glory and the fame of Christ cannot help but be fascinated by it and be deeply moved at the root of his heart. It is the action of the Father who acts in the spirit of man through his Holy Spirit. Thus, Simon, nicknamed Peter, confessed that Jesus was the Son of God, not according to the fame given to Christ by men, but rather by the Father in person: "Jesus said to his disciples, «But who do you say that I am?» Simon Peter replied, «You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.» And Jesus answered him, «Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.»" (Mt.16:16-17)
The glorification of the Son by the Father begets new disciples of Christ: if Simon could be called "Peter" (Mt. 16:18) by Christ, it is because the Father showed to Simon Peter, in spirit, the fame of his Son. The same applies to the glorification of the believers by the Father: when some Christians behave in a virtuous manner and sometimes in a heroic way, if these acts are known (which constitutes fame and a certain glory), then, the other men and women could intimately be affected by it, to such an extent that they often become more holy, and sometimes even new disciples of Christ. The glory of Christ and of the Christians allow the Father, in the Holy Spirit, to beget new believers in the Crucified of Nazareth.
There is no comparison between the glory of the Father and the glory of the world and that of the earth: it is the glory of Heaven, it is the glory of the Cross that led the Savior of the world up to the right of God his Father. That's why Saint Paul writes: "Far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." (Ga. 6:14) This glory of the Father is not a glory that shines to the eyes of men: it is all interior, because it is spiritual. It will shine forth in the light only at the very instant when Christ will appear in his own glory on his return at the end times.
Being essentially spiritual, the glory of the Father is a way to unity: all those whom the glory of Christ and of the Christians attract are as one, for they have all one heart and one soul (cf. Acts 4:32). The glory of Christ unites all the Christians: "The glory which thou hast given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one." (Jn. 17:22) Thus, when the Father of glory acts in the heart of the believers, he achieves the unity of all the believers in Christ, who become then "living stones" (1 P. 2:5) similar to this unique Rock, Simon, whom the Father has built in his Son Jesus.
We will continue our reading of Saint Paul the next time, if it pleases
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Page n.3 about God the Father
Here is what Saint Paul says in the third chapter of his epistle to the Ephesians: "I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with might through his Spirit in the inner man, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love." (Ep. 3:14-17)
In this passage of Saint Paul, note these words: "I bow my knees before the Father." This action, this fact of kneeling before God, we do it, we did it repeatedly in our life. This attitude of respect towards God the Father marks our inferiority opposite the one who is the creator of the universe, the one from whom we received all, the one in whom we live since our existence. Saint Paul didn't hesitate to proclaim it before the Are-op'agus of Athens: "It is in him that has us the life, the movement and the be." In him we live and move and have our being." (Acts 17:28)
We are less than the Father: before him, we bow our knees. Jesus also, as much as man similar to us, said that he was less than the Father: "The Father is greater than I." (John 14:28) But, of course, as well as it has just been said, it is only like a man that Jesus could say to be less than the Father; as much as God, he is the equal of the Father, as well as he affirmed it himself: "I and the Father are one." (John 10:30)
What can Jesus-Man be lacking so that he is less than the Father? This what he is lacking, it is the same thing which we are lacking ourselves, and this why the Son of God was incarnate: the acquaintance of God. For God sent his Son so that, through him, the world knows him in love. Jesus said indeed to his Father: "This is eternal life, that they know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent." (John 17:3) If Jesus-Man is less than his Father, that's why the acquaintance of the eternal life is given to him by his Father; thus Jesus said to his disciples: ""I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you." (John 15:15)
The words of Jesus are clear: this which he learned from the Father, he transmitted it to his disciples. But this which Jesus teaches as much as a man, he does it also as much as God, for there is only one person in Jesus. This means that this which Jesus said in words of man, he said it in the Holy Spirit, who rests upon him (cf. Luke 4:18). By the very fact, the Spirit of God speaks to the heart of each one of his disciples when Jesus teaches them, helping them to understand, in God, this which Jesus said as much as a man.
When a man lets the Spirit of God instruct him, he is brought to the love of his Creator and thus the three divine Persons come to stay in him: "If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him." (John 14:23) It is what happened at the highest point to Peter when Jesus interrogated him, he and his mates, in order to know this which he thought of him: "He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven." (Mt. 16:15-17)
The Father spoke to Peter, he revealed to him, through his Spirit, who Jesus was: the Son of the living God. But Jesus, after this confession without alike, established Peter like the foundation of his Church: he established him definitely in the Church which he wanted for his Wife in the heavenly city. This foundation was definitive, though it has still to pass by the test of the purification: Jesus had not yet accomplished the Redemption of mankind, and Peter, unfortunately, was betraying his Master at the time of his arrest. Whatever is of it, this foundation was very real, and no one could henceforth completely annihilate it.
It is therefore before Peter foundation of his Church, it is before a man to whom the Father had spoken that Jesus, the day before his Passion, washed the feet of his disciples, and therefore those of Peter: "Then he poured water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which he was girded." (John 13:5) It is as if Jesus knelt before his disciples, and in particular before Peter; he probably did it really. It is therefore as if Jesus knelt before his Father who is in Heavens, this so much beloved Father, full of mercy, he who condescended to speak to Peter to reveal to him his Son.
Saint Paul invites us to kneel us before God the Father; Jesus washed the feet of his disciples and he invites us to kneel us before our brothers, and notably before Peter, or rather before he who represents him today for us, the Pope. Is it not there a mark of deep respect for the one to whom the Father spoke, Peter, the first Pope, always living in the memory of the Church and acting mysteriously through each one of his legitimate successors? The Church says to us that the Pope teaches, in some circumstances, by an infallible manner: it is not an astonishing thing, since the Father spoke to Peter.
We will continue our reading of Saint Paul the next time, if this pleases
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Page n.4 about God the Father
Let us continue our reading of Saint Paul. Here is what he says in this famous passage of his epistle to the Ephesians: "There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all." (Ep. 4:4-6)
There is "one God and Father of us all," says Saint Paul to us. God as Father is a constituent of unity : God the Father is unique, and this uniqueness allows us, his sons, to be all united in him and through him. If, through the grace of God, we are sons of God, then, the Father of Jesus is our Father to us all, and our filial link to the Father unites us all one another. But this filial link, it is the Spirit of God who allows its existence, for he is the Spirit in whom the Father and the Son live within a unique divine essence. That's why, Saint Paul begins by saying: "There is one body and one Spirit."
Before Saint Paul, Jesus himself taught us unity, saying, when he prayed his Father: "The glory which thou hast given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one." (John 17:22 - See also the second page on God the Father). This means that if we all have only one Father, who is God, then, together, all of us, we make only one Body living in a unity similar to the one of the Most Holy Trinity itself. "There is one body and one Spirit." If there is only one united Church, it could only be on the model of the Divine Trinity, that is to say, the essential union of the Three Divine Persons.
"God is love," Saint John says to us (1 John 4:16). From the beginning of time, God the Father has been loving his Son, and the Son loving his Father, and from this divine love, who is the personified love, the Holy Spirit does proceed. But God didn't want to keep this love in him: on the contrary, he wanted that this love be spread out from him, in his creatures. It is precisely because God is love that the world exists: the creation is nothing else than the demonstration of the love which is in God from the beginning of time. However, it was only at the time of the coming of Christ among us that the love of God reached its full demonstration, according to these words of the Father: "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased." (Mt. 3:17)
The love that is in God, and that is God, has been poured in our hearts through the Spirit of the Father: "God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us." (Rm. 5:5) But, once in us, this love of God receives like a new dimension: it is as if it took flesh, not in us, nor because of us, but in Christ and because of Christ, who is in us. It is at this time that the Body of Christ becomes alive and, that really, though in a mysterious manner, we achieve all together a certain image of the Most Holy Trinity, and that, all of us are "of one heart and soul." (Ac. 4:32) It is at this time that is achieved this "profound mystery," of which Saint Paul speaks (cf. Ep. 5:32)
There is "one God and Father of us all, who is above all." The Father, our Father, is above us, because, even though all together we form an image of the Divine Trinity, we still remain men and women, finished creatures, dependent on the Creator of all things. It is for that matter by considering himself like one of us that Jesus said: "The Father is greater than I." (Jn. 14:28)
If the Father is above us, it is not however in order to maintain us in our servility and in our inferiority. On the contrary, it is in order to attract our look towards above, toward the things of Heaven. God didn't create us to crawl on the ground and walk on all fours like animals. But he wanted us to have the head turned towards Heaven so that our mind be preoccupied by the eternal life. Our condition of sons of God in Christ is not steady, and will never be: even in the eternity, our love of God will grow constantly. Always, we have to keep our head turned towards Heaven, for we must constantly grow in the love of God. "Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Mt. 5:48)
If the Father is above us, it is because he is Father and that, in this sense, he has all authority over us. The word "authority" comes from the Latin "augere", that is to say "make to grow, increase". Therefore, he who has authority is the one who causes to grow: the Father, our Father, is above us because he is the one who makes us grow until we stay in him, and he in us. That's why Saint Paul says: "There is one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all." God the Father acts in us and he is in us, insofar as he makes us grow in him, that is to say, insofar as we recognize his sovereign authority as the Creator and the Father of all things, except for sin.
To conclude, lest us make sure we remember these admirable words of
Jesus: "If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will
love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him." (John 14:23)
We will continue our reading of Saint Paul next time, if this pleases God
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Page n.5 about God the Father
In his epistle to the Philippians, Saint Paul writes, speaking of Christ: "Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Ph. 2:9-11)
Here, Saint Paul intends to speak to us of the name of "Jesus". It is the name which God the Father chose for his Son become a man. But, though chosen by God, this name of Jesus is first a name of a man given to a man, Christ, by a man, Joseph. The latter indeed received from God the order to give this name of Jesus to he who would be born of Mary, his wife: "An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, «Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.»" (Mt. 1:20-21)
Jesus is the human name of Christ, the Son of God. It is the name under which he was known as man since his younger age: "At the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb." (Lc. 2:21) It is also the name that was written on the placard affixed above Christ nailed on the cross: "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews." (Jn. 19:19)
God the Father therefore made sure, through the intermediary of Joseph, the putative father of Jesus, that his Son have, as a man, a very particular name that let us know precisely who his Son is and what he came to accomplish among us. God the Father wanted that we know, through this name, that this man, similar to the other men, is our Savior, and therefore that he is not only a man, but also God. For God alone can save us from our sins.
The name of Jesus, although it is about a human name like those which all men and women have on earth, is a name that directly speaks to us of the divinity of the Son of God. It is actually this unique aspect of the divinity of the Son of God which the Angel Gabriel wanted to put in relief when he addressed Mary the day of the Incarnation: "You will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end." (Lc.1:31-33)
It is this divinity which Saint Paul wanted to express when he says: "Every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." If the name of Jesus is a word of man, a name of man given to a man, Christ, by an other man, it is also and first a name of God, a name of the Lord, a name that has a power without equal, that of the divinity itself. When we pronounce therefore this name of "Jesus" with faith, we really enter in communion, although mystically, with the very Word of God, this Word that alone is the true and unique name of God.
But then, if we, like the Father, also pronounce this Word that is his Son, we participate, in a certain manner, in the unique eternal act of the Father: that through which and in which he eternally begets his Son, his Verb, his Word. And then the eternal glory of the Father, a glory that, intrinsically, is perfect and to which nothing could be added or entrenched, receives like an extension in the world in which we live. It is then that we can pronounce, with Saint Paul, the name of Jesus for the glory of God the Father: "Every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
The glory of the Father is also the glory of his Son, and the glory of the Holy Spirit. It is therefore also our own glory, sons of God in Christ. If we therefore proclaim that Jesus is Lord, it is our own glory in God which we get. But, conversely, if we refuse to proclaim that Jesus is Lord, it is our own ignominy and our own condemnation which we announce: "So every one who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven; but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven." (Mt. 10:32-33)
Finally, it is not without importance that we are called to proclaim the name of the Son of God: Jesus. On the contrary, that is the whole question, all our eternal salvation is in these words. That's why Saint Paul didn't hesitate to write to the Romans: "If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your hearth that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For man believes with his heart and so is justified, and he confesses with his lips and so is saved." (Rm. 10:9-10)
We will continue our reading of Saint Paul the next time, if this pleases
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Page n.6 about God the Father
In his first epistle to the Thessalonians, Saint Paul writes: "May our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you ; and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all men, as we do to you, so that he may establish your hearts unblamable in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints." (1 Th. 3:11-13)
The Holy Spirit has put in the heart of Saint Paul this obsession, or rather this desire, of an encounter with God. Speaking of the vision of God, he says, in his first epistle to the Corinthians: "For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face" (1 Cor. 13:12). This desire of an encounter with the Lord already anticipates in some way this eternal encounter: Saint Paul, right from this life, feels this divine look resting on him, a look that must guide him towards an eternal transfiguration in love. It is particularly in this spirit that he writes this letter to the Thessalonians, for he begins in this way: "We give thanks to God always for you all, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Th. 1:3)
God the Father sees us all the time. This thought took hold of Saint Paulís spirit and he sees to it to transmit to others this intimate conviction, by writing to the Thessalonians: "So that he may establish your hearts unblamable in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints." This thought is salutary, it must guide us to the eternal salvation: for God, our Father, with his Son Jesus, must judge us at the end of our life, when, for each one of us, the advent of our Lord Jesus will take place.
The fact that God our Father looks at us is a powerful help that prevents us from falling into whatever mistake: "So that he may establish your hearts." If God our Father looks at us, and if we think of it, then we are in communion with him, and the Holy Spirit who unites us to our Father becomes our strength to consolidate our heart and to prevent us from falling. But there is more. All this which is impure in us, that is to say the roots of the sin, this which our past sins have, in some way, printed in our soul, because of the original sin, all this is destroyed by the way our Father sees us, insofar as we pay ever so slightly to it through our own way of seeing in faith and hope in the divine mercy. That's why Saint Paul writes: "So that he may establish your hearts unblamable in holiness before our God and Father."
The way God our Father sees us is none other than the manifestation of God himself: it is God who reveals himself like he who watches over everyone and over all things. That's why Saint Paul directly joins up the way our father sees us to the event of the Second Coming: "Before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints." But, for Saint Paul, and for all the Church with him, we have already entered into this which the Apostle calls "the fullness of time": "When the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman." (Ga. 4:4) Therefore the manifestation of God is already performed in our life, from the day when the Verb took flesh.
There is no day that passes without God our Father showing the way he sees men and women who live in the Spirit of God. It is what we call the divine Providence. God our Father watches over us through his look of kindliness. But God doesn't act without us. For we are his sons, that is to say linked to him by a link of sonship: if God watches over us by the way he sees us, we must be attentive, thankful, and especially confident in his mercy. It is our part. God will see to the rest. It is the supernatural side of the dictum: "God help those who help themselves."
Assuredly, it is God himself who, the first, gives us the grace so that we can be attentive, thankful, and confident in him. It is the very first action of God towards us. At this stage, we don't yet understand well what is the matter with us. Something occurred, but this light of the grace is something so new that we are in some way blinded by it, just like Saint Paul on the way to Damascus (cf. Ac. 9:8). It is only then, after having crossed this obscurity of faith, after having walked sometimes a long time on this road of the return to God, that we experiment for the first time how our Father sees us.
And to conclude, let us read again these admirable words of Jesus: "If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him." (John 14:23) What Jesus means, is that there are two steps: in the first place, to love God, and, then, to keep his word. This word of Jesus, it is none other than himself in person, the Word of God. But this Word doesn't belong to us: it is necessary that we receive it from the one to whom it belongs, that is to say from the Father. Now, it is precisely that which our Father does when he watches over us in his Love, who is the Holy Spirit: he gives us his Word, his Son whom he begets in an eternal encounter.
We will continue our reading of Saint Paul the next time, if this pleases
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Page n.7 about God the Father
In his second letter to the Thessalonians, Saint Paul encourages thus his readers: "May our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word." (2 Th. 2:16)
Saint Paul serves here as a mediator between, on one hand, Jesus Christ and the Father, and, on the other hand, the believers of the Church of God which is in Thessalonique. For there is a clear and direct connection between the extremes of which Saint Paul is the mediator: it is that of the "word." Indeed, on one hand, Jesus is the incarnate Word of the Father, and the Father is such, that is to say Father, only because of the Word he begets and conceives in the Power of the Holy Spirit. On the other hand, the believers are destined to be other Christs, that is to say other words of the living God in the world in order to announce, like Christ, the coming of the reign of God "in every good work and word."
The Christians are not destined to live in silence. Even those who live in the solitude of contemplation are listening to the Word of God, which they hear in the bottom of their heart, or which the Church repeats to them through the Holy Scripture and through the orders of the superiors. Always, the Christians are listening to the Word of the Father, either to retell it to themselves in the silence of mental prayer, or to retell it to their brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ. The Word of God must be the object of a constant attention on the part of all Christians whether this word comes from God himself, or from the Church.
Let us remember what the Lord said: "What I tell you in the dark, utter in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim upon the housetops."(Mt. 10:27) Similarly, let us remember what I already mentioned on page n. 5, that is what Saint Paul teaches by saying: "If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For man believes with his heart and so is justified, and he confesses with his lips and so is saved." (Rm. 10:9-10)
The notion of "word" is absolutely essential to all Christians, whoever they are. Without it, they are nothing. For without it, they are not assured of their eternal salvation. Besides, what is to be saved in Jesus Christ, if not to believe in him who is the Word of God, that is to say to be one with this Word that saves, and therefore, for us, to be also "word" in the unique Word of God, Son of the Father? Thus, those who are Christians, those who are the Church of God, are "word" in Jesus Christ.
But, Jesus, the Son of God, though he is a person distinct from the Father, is the Word of the Father that is in the Father: "Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father in me." (John 14:11) Also, the Christians, the Church of God is not only in Jesus Christ, but she is also in God the Father. Thatís why, Saint Paul begins his second letter to the Thessalonians by saying: "Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the Church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." (2 Th. 1:1)
If the Christians are in God the Father, this means that they are praying the Father, or that the Father is constantly offering them this powerful help of the prayer, this grace source of all the graces to come. The prayer being the preferred way to express our hope in the eternal life, this action of the Father who offers this help is the one which is described by Saint Paul, when he says: "God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace." But the Christians are not only in God the Father, they are also in the world: they are destined by God to announce his reign to all the nations, "in every good work and word."
The Christians are "word" of God in the Father and in the world. If the Father watches over his children by the power of his grace, it is so that those who are his sons, "words" in the unique and eternal Word, could announce the coming of his reign with fruit and perseverance. But if the Christians receive this grace of prayer from the Father, it is not only for themselves, but also for the world in which they live and to which they are sent as witnesses of the Word.
The Christians cannot hesitate to appropriate these words of Jesus who
prayed his Father in this manner : "That they may all be one; even
as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us,
so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me." (John 17:21)
If the Christians are other Christs, although in some other way, that is
to say through filial adoption, then, they are in the Father and the Father
is in them. If the Church was truly founded on Peter, and really was, then,
Jesus can say to all the Church, in the Holy Spirit, as he said to Peter:
"For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is
in heaven." (Mt. 16:17)