DIVINE PATERNITY AND MATERNITY IN USby Fr. Tomislav Vlasic
The title of this reflection makes one immediately think of marriage or preparation for marriage, but we know that marriage isn’t the only condition for becoming mothers and fathers.
For instance, there is the paternity and maternity of man which begins with his conception; and that of the young people who must reflect on the ways that lie before them when choosing either consecrated life or marriage. So, in this same perspective, we see how divine paternity and maternity is proper to priests and the consecrated according to the model of Joseph and Mary who didn’t generate in the flesh, but were in a perfect manner, father and mother. And we also see in this perspective God’s creativity which is present in each soul. His creativity is a power that desires being manifested and freed so it can find the space within us to be more fully expressed.It is every being’s nature to generate. If he cannot generate he feels frustrated. A Christian who does not generate life in God is a maimed Christian. If a spirituality does not generate God it is ill. Openness to the gift of divine paternity and maternity is thus the readiness to generate the life of God in others.
In this perspective, we find ourselves before two choices: to generate life or to generate death. To generate life one must necessarily be united to God and be in harmony with Him. Since God is the source of life, He is our life; and it is His life which must be generated in us. To the contrary, Satan generates death, even spiritual death.To generate life means to allow God’s life to flow out like a river, according to St. John’s account in the book of Revelation. In his apostolic vision John saw that from God’s temple – the new Jerusalem – life flowed out (symbolized by a river), and that life in the world was not polluted by it, but rather was healed and purified by it.
So that divine paternity and maternity is lived correctly, it is fundamental that our life generate and make known God’s grace. We can see how thoughts and desires flow continually through us, both on a conscious and sub-conscious level; well, in being united to God - day and night - it is divine life that flows out from us. Though we are probably unaware of it, God’s action covers the entire environment, and even nature feels His grace being sent forth.
Mary and Joseph are our models:, Jesus Christ chose these two people who had put aside all their plans and desires, and it was in them that He became incarnate. If we, too, surrender ourselves and all we have to God, without reserve, and without allowing our ego to dominate, then the river of God’s grace will pass through us.
To receive the gift of divine paternity and maternity the most important thing is that the grace of God envelop us and change us. Unless we are regenerated, we cannot be fathers and mothers of divine life, for we ourselves would lack it. Perhaps we can accomplish great works on religious or humanitarian levels, or preach refined catecheses or theological lessons, but unless we are transformed in the life of God we cannot possibly transmit His life. If, on the other hand, we allow God’s grace to envelop us and lift us up, nothing can impede divine life from using us as its vessels. There is no power that can stop it, no one that can oppose it, not even death or hell.With baptism we become God’s children, but that’s not enough, for we are called to be fathers and mothers, parents. This is adult faith. This is where our mission begins. But who is willing to accept this gift from God? Not many. Those who unite themselves completely to God and desire entering into mystical communion with Him are able to fulfil the call of a Christian. The Church has neither hesitated, nor delayed in raising to the altar the great saints who’ve been fathers and mothers for humanity, such as Mother Teresa and Padre Pio: bearers of life. Where and how can mothers and fathers express themselves? We know from the mass media that mankind risks grave dangers. Creation was entrusted to us so that God could govern it through us. Therefore, our fervent prayer in favour of all creation – prayer which is fruit of our paternity and maternity - ought to be a prayer through which God works His grace with power. If the gift of divine paternity and maternity in us were alive, we would easily recognize how we are all priests, and mediators. This is the spark that we received with our baptism and that makes us a priestly people. The gift is within us.
History has its course, with periods of crisis, others of triumph. Many things suggest to us that the time of the triumph of Mary Most Holy, of her maternity, is at hand. Her apparitions will shine out; the times are mature. The visits to Medjugorje will be powerfully affirmed; but there is need for fathers and mothers: men and women to generate new life, so that the Holy Spirit can act through them, the way He did with the Apostles.
What do we desire? apparitions, or visions, or do we want God’s creativity within us? Some receive apparitions; it is a sign God grants to the world – a special grace. However, all of us can and must be creative, each according to his individual gifts. Even those who think they are last are called to be filled!
So what do we prefer? The tales, the visions, the words; or the living God Who generates His Son – the living Word – in us? The difference is abyssal! If we opt for the unending prayer and devotion which annoy God, which are heard but not heeded, we will not receive life, and we will not know how it should flow through us. We must, instead, choose to belong to God, and He will transmit life to us. Then, we will not say: "Where is God?", for we will all see Him. We will no longer ask: "What is God like?", because we will understand. All history tends towards the apex: God-with-us and us-with-God.Sacred Scripture, from the beginning, proclaims the Woman who will crush the head of the enemy. In the light of what we have said, we can add that it will be the fathers and mothers – united to Mary – that will crush the head of the old serpent. Those who generate life will also cast out death and he who generated death. It is a beautiful call. This is what God is calling us to.