It’s Father’s Day in Australia and New Zealand and no matter where we are or where our earthly father is the one thing we all have in common today as we worship is God, the one we also know as Father. For we believe that in Jesus we are joint heirs. This makes the family of God, siblings worshipping together, in this we are unified. Where our earthly father may have failed us the one thing we do believe is that our heavenly Father does not. This knowledge is healing, and open to all.
A few years ago, I was introduced to the writing of Rahner, even though it was published in 1971. He was the first I had encountered that wrote about the relationship between our relationship with our earthly parent and the development of faith. Though to me it was intuitive, and observational, the scarcity of work on this aspect was sadly scarce. More general works have been written about the developmental influences of childhood on faith development, but what struck me so strongly from Rahner was the clear and defined entwinement of that process. He writes “One must not conceive in terms that are too absolute of the connection between the child’s actual experience of his father on one hand, and the possibility of achieving a relationship to God as father in the absolute sense by faith on the other.” He then explains that the failing of our earthly parents may actually be helpful in encouraging us to search beyond ourselves, “It is perfectly possible that a lack of protection, a lack of that sheltering solitude and security which comes from the love of one’s parent’s may actually serve to spur us on to the metaphysical quest for one who will provide us with our ultimate support, who will sustain and protect us.”. He later explains that trust as developed in our earliest relationship becomes the foundation of our relationship with God.
In the Psalm recommended by the RCL last week, Psalm 71 we read about how intimately God knows us, as well as learning in the First Reading, Jeremiah 1:4-10 that no-one not even the young are beyond being called by Him. Regardless of our age we stand as siblings together in Worship. And this week we learn in the Gospel Reading Luke 14:1, 7-14 what is expected of us as God’s children.
So, this Father’s Day what do we bring to the Father of creation, we bring our all, every part of us that he knitted together.
Rahner, K., Theological Investigations Vol.8 (London, Darten, Longman and Todd, 1971) p.44 and 45.