August 31, 2016
In the past couple of weeks, I've had some powerful interior reflections about God allowing us to participate in His life and work. Crazy how that happens when you do a better job of planning contemplation and prayer into your schedule.
I apologize in advance, but the best way I could find to communicate my thoughts is in a rather stream-of-consciousness fashion, so here goes nothin'. It's too late in the evening for me to edit well anyway.
At Mass the weekend before last, I found myself marveling at the concept of fatherhood. Not surprising, as my wife and I are expecting our first child on Valentine's Day this coming February.
What I felt most clearly was a hearty dose of unworthiness, though I have to emphasize it was not the unfortunate self-deprecating kind ("I'm not gonna be able to do this..."), but rather a reverence for the source of fatherhood. While fatherhood feels to be a sort of human, mundane reality in all its ubiquity, I took a moment to focus on where fatherhood originated: the creation of humankind by our heavenly Father. Every father since then has been an imitation of God's fatherhood. Here again, though, we can take the self-deprecating route: imitation is seen as something cheap, lacking the authenticity of the source. I, on the other hand, have found that self-deprecation does way more harm than good, and when my thoughts turn there, it's often those thoughts that are least authentic to what I truly feel, and therefore least helpful in prayer and least humble.
Instead of leaving us on our imperfect level, and even before Christ graced the Earth, God gave man the capacity toparticipate in His fatherhood, rather than imitate it. When our act of generativity is consecrated to God, it no longer becomes an artist taking his best shot at ultra-realism, but we can, in sharing the act of creating with the Creator, can truly create a new spiritual reality.
We co-create a new soul.
This theme of "spiritual reality" that's been rolling around in my head (and apparently Lauren's, too) takes this theme of fatherhood to even greater levels! No longer is fatherhood limited to merely physical generation, but spiritual fatherhood, a healing and renewing of another soul, is just as real, just as much a participation as the more visible kind.
After Mass today, my wife smartly tied the first reading of the day to our own personal advent: We planted and watered, but God is doing the true growing of our child. Neither of us is "anything," but we are at the same time nothing and "God's co-workers." Where else do we find our "human condition" of simultaneous imperfection and redeemed glory so neatly packaged than in Paul's letters?
I planted, Apollos watered, but God caused the growth.
Therefore, neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything,
but only God, who causes the growth.
He who plants and he who waters are one,
and each will receive wages in proportion to his labor.
For we are God’s co-workers;
you are God’s field, God’s building.
(1 Cor 3:6-9)
Let's pray for Paul's healthy distaste for anyone praising him. He doesn't just shake it off, say thank you and shuffle his feet, he writes fiery letters to entire communities to let them know just where all this goodness is coming from. It's sure as heaven and sure as hell not his preaching.
Let's also pray for wonder at being included! What a deep and human need God has satisfied by allowing us to participate in his divine Life. We are God's people, but we are also His children.
Praised be Jesus Christ, ruler and brother.