1. Jesus, as we saw in our
last catechesis, enjoys a very special relationship with "his"
Father through his words and actions. John's Gospel stresses that
what he communicates to men is the fruit of this intimate and
extraordinary union: "The Father and I are one" (Jn 10:30). And
again: "All that the Father has is mine" (Jn 16:15). There is a
reciprocity between the Father and the Son in what they know of each
other (cf. Jn 10:15), in what they are (cf. Jn 14:10), in what they
do (cf. Jn 5:19; 10:38) and in what they possess: "Everything of
mine is yours, and everything of yours is mine" (Jn 17:10). It is a
reciprocal exchange which finds full expression in the glory Jesus
receives from the Father in the supreme mystery of his Death and
Resurrection, after he himself had given it to the Father during his
earthly life: "Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the
Son may glorify you.... I glorified you on earth ... and now Father,
glorify me in your own presence ..." (Jn 1:1, 4f.).
This essential union with the Father not only accompanies Jesus'
activity, but defines his whole being. "The Incarnation of God's Son
reveals that God is the eternal Father and that the Son is
consubstantial with the Father, which means that, in the Father and
with the Father, the Son is one and the same God" (CCC, n. 262). The
Evangelist John stresses that it is precisely to this divine claim
that the religious leaders of the people react, for they cannot
tolerate him calling God his Father and therefore making himself
equal to God (Jn 5:18; cf. 10:33; 19:7).
2. In virtue of this consonance in being and acting, Jesus reveals
the Father in words and deeds: "No one has ever seen God: the only
Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known" (Jn
1:18). As we are told in the account of the Synoptic Gospels (cf. Mk
1:11; Mt 3:17; Lk 3:22), the fact that Christ is the "beloved" one
is proclaimed at his Baptism. The Evangelist John refers this back
to its Trinitarian root, that is, to the mysterious existence of the
Word "with" the Father (Jn 1:1), who generates him from all
Starting with the Son, New Testament reflection and the theology
based on it have plumbed the mystery of God's "fatherhood". It is
the Father who is the absolute principle in Trinitarian life, the
one who has no origin and from whom the divine life flows. The unity
of the three Persons is a sharing in the one divine essence, but in
the dynamism of reciprocal relations that have their source and
foundation in the Father. "It is the Father who generates, the Son
who is begotten, and the Holy Spirit who proceeds" (Fourth Lateran
Council: DS 804).
3. The Apostle John offers us a key to this mystery which infinitely
surpasses our understanding, when in his First Letter he proclaims:
"God is love" (1 Jn 4:8). This summit of revelation indicates that
God is agape, that is, the gratuitous and total gift of self which
Christ proved to us, especially by his death on the Cross. The
Father's infinite love for the world is revealed in Christ's
sacrifice (cf. Jn 3:16; Rom 5:8). The capacity to love infinitely,
to give oneself without reserve or measure, belongs to God. By
virtue of his being Love, even before his free creation of the world
he is Father in the divine life itself: a loving Father who
generates the beloved Son and gives rise with him to the Holy
Spirit, the Person- Love, the reciprocal bond of communion.
On this basis the Christian faith understands the equality of the
three Divine Persons: the Son and the Spirit are equal to the
Father, not as autonomous principles, as though they were three
gods, but because they receive the whole divine life from the
Father, and are distinct from him and from one another only in the
diversity of their relations (cf. CCC, n. 254).
A great mystery, a mystery of love, an ineffable mystery, before
which words must give way to the silence of wonder and worship. A
divine mystery that challenges and involves us, because a share in
the Trinitarian life was given to us through grace, through the
redemptive Incarnation of the Word and the gift of the Holy Spirit:
"Anyone who loves me will be true to my word, and my Father will
love him; we will come to him and make our dwelling-place with him"
4. For us believers, the reciprocity between the Father and the Son
thus becomes a principle of new life which enables us to participate
in the very fullness of the divine life: "Whoever confesses that
Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God" (1 Jn
4:15). The dynamism of Trinitarian life is lived by creatures in
such a way that everything is directed to the Father, through Jesus
Christ, in the Holy Spirit. This is what the Catechism of the
Catholic Church stresses: "The whole Christian life is a communion
with each of the Divine Persons, without in any way separating them.
Everyone who glorifies the Father does so through the Son in the
Holy Spirit" (n. 259).
The Son has become "the first-born among many brethren" (Rom 8:29);
through his death the Father communicated new life to us (1 Pt 1:3;
cf. also Rom 8:32; Eph 1:3), so that we might call upon him in the
Holy Spirit with the same term that Jesus used: Abba (Rom 8:15 Gal
4:6). St Paul explains this mystery further, saying that "The Father
... has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in
light. He has delivered us from the dominion of darkness and
transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son" (Col 1:12-13). And
this is how Revelation describes the eschatological destiny of
whoever fights and conquers the power of evil with Christ: "He who
conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I myself
conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne" (Rv 3:21).
Christ's promise opens to us the wondrous prospect of sharing in his
heavenly intimacy with the Father.
I extend a special greeting to the Marist Brothers and to the
priests taking part in the Institute for Continuing Theological
Education at the Pontifical North American College. May you
rediscover each day in your lives the loving presence of the Blessed
Trinity. Upon all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors,
especially those from England, Northern Ireland, Denmark, Singapore,
Japan and the United States of America, I invoke the joy and peace
of our Lord Jesus Christ.
This page is the work of the Servants of the
Pierced Hearts of Jesus and