Yesterday’s discussion regarding fathers at Cyberstones was intriguing. Last evening I was tempted to formulate a reply. Swinging the pendulum too far in the spiritual (vs. genetics) direction based on abusive/rotten fathers is what granted feminist permission for Heather’s two daddies/mommies in the first place. However, the correction having been made and received, why bother? So I dropped it.
Then with today’s recitation of the Catechism the baptismal tide turned. False fathers are not all that is addressed in the Introduction (by the antithesis) to the Lord’s Prayer, but also false children:
With these words God tenderly invites us to believe that He is our true Father and that we are His true children, so that with all boldness and confidence we may ask Him as dear children ask their dear father.
That is, if God is our true Father and we are His true children, who are His false children? We are certainly His true children by Baptism. It is then He writes His name upon us. Where His name is, there He dwells. He owns us, just as a Father possesses His children.
Jesus wasn’t shy about saying who was or wasn’t one of God’s children. In John 8 He tells the Pharisees that if they are Abraham’s children they will do as Abraham. Instead they seek to kill Him, a man who has told them nothing but the truth. Therefore, those who do not believe Jesus are not God’s children.
Those who counted their hope in the One whom God promised believed Abraham and would know the Messiah when He came. Abraham saw His day and rejoiced in it. Even Sarah delighted to call her master “Lord,” indicating that she had first of all submitted in hope to the promise of salvation from sin, the sign of which was circumcision in Abraham and a son to be born to them both. Those who are as she is are her children- and if they are hers, then Abraham’s also. Yet when the Messiah came, not all who claimed to be Abraham’s children received Him. Jesus pointed out that if they knew Abraham they would know Him. Yet, they were false children of Abraham; therefore they proved themselves to be the children of another father- Satan.
Those who are false fathers (and mothers!) are those who are false children. For, if one will not be possessed by his heavenly Father in His Word and Sacraments, then he cannot live according to the manner by which his Father desires him to. Following the Introduction to the Lord’s Prayer is the First Petition, which are both the heart of the First Commandment and the essence of Christian ethics. Ethics, of course, is what the Pharisees were all about. Jesus revealed they were really a bunch of slaves bound to their own illegitimacy.
Hallowed be Thy name.
What does this mean?
God's name is certainly holy in itself, but we pray in this petition that it may be kept holy among us also.
How is God's name kept holy?
God's name is kept holy when the Word of God is taught in its truth and purity, and we, as the children of God, also lead holy lives according to it. Help us to do this, dear Father in heaven! But anyone who teaches or lives contrary to God's Word profanes the name of God among us. Protect us from this, heavenly Father!
George MacDonald wrote a tale of a young man who was abandoned by his grandmother after his mother died in childbirth. Raised by a kindly old man and thinking he had no natural kin, he grew up thinking poorly of a wretch of a woman in the town, and not without cause. One day he discovers she is actually his grandmother. He wants nothing more than to spit her from his life. The old man will have none of it. Would he so treat the one God used as the instrument of his own mother’s birth? And by her his own birth? And from that gift of life his own knowledge of Christ and His salvation? Dare he spit Christ from His life?
Certainly repentance is a thing to be sought for those who have become fathers and mothers and then abused the vocation. (I am not here advocating a willy-nilly “Welcome home, Daddy,” Day for errant fathers!) Clement speaks of those who fall into public sin in a manner similar to our Confessions, Apology Article XII (VI), Confession and Satisfaction, 112:
1Clem 57:1-7 Ye therefore that laid the foundation of the sedition, submit yourselves unto the presbyters and receive chastisement unto repentance, bending the knees of your heart. Learn to submit yourselves, laying aside the arrogant and proud stubbornness of your tongue. For it is better for you to be found little in the flock of Christ and to have your name on God's roll, than to be had in exceeding honor and yet be cast out from the hope of Him. For thus saith the All virtuous Wisdom; Behold I will pour out for you a saying of My breath, and I will teach you My word. Because I called and ye obeyed not, and I held out words and ye heeded not, but made My councils of none effect, and were disobedient unto My reproofs; therefore I also will laugh at your destruction, and will rejoice over you when ruin cometh upon you, and when confusion overtaketh you suddenly, and your overthrow is at hand like a whirlwind, or when ye call upon Me, yet will I not hear you. Evil men shall seek me and not find me: for they hated wisdom, and chose not the fear of the Lord, neither would they give head unto My councils, but mocked at My reproofs. Therefore they shall eat the fruits of their own way, and shall be filled with their own ungodliness. For because they wronged babes, they shall be slain, and inquisition shall destroy the ungodly. But he that heareth Me shall dwell safely, trusting in hope, and shall be quiet from all fear of all evil.
It seems that the problem lies firstly with those who would be fathers (and mothers!) before being God’s children. We reject the fathers and mothers we have because we neither can nor do we wish to receive what God gives us. We want only what seems to be good in our eyes; God gives what is good for our sakes. He gives us Christ, and Him bloodied and beaten and dead on a cross. Or He comes by way of men who hardly give any appearance of being anyone’s father, least of all our own. Yet, because He is the image and likeness of the Father and they speak for Him and only say what He would say, then a father they are when they say what He does for His Son’s sake, “Go you are free.”