The Gratuitousness of God the Father
“I believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible.” When we pray the Creed, we recognize that there is a reality far greater than ourselves, professing that from before all else, God simply is, that is, “the fullness of Being and of every perfection, without origin and without end” (CCC 213). While a complete understanding of the mystery of God is beyond our limited human comprehension, he has chosen to reveal himself in ways we can grasp. And this is the beginning of our salvation.
All-powerful, all-knowing, omnipresent and eternal, God is no mere irrational force – he reveals himself as a personal being in history and in our lives. When we approach this ineffable, transcendent living God we can dare to call him “Father.” Ever faithful, he knows us and cares for us with a passionate, abiding and unconditional love. “He desires our well-being and he wants to see us happy, full of joy, and peaceful,” explains Pope Francis (Misericordiae Vultus, 9). Most especially, God wants to have a living relationship with each of us and raise us up so that we might share in his divine life as his adopted children.
Each of us and all that exist are the result of God’s love, which is entirely gift – God’s gift of himself. God did not need to create humanity; he is complete in himself. Rather, he brought us forth purely as an act of gratuitous love, and he seeks to save our lives as part of this superabundant love. The Lord remembers and sustains his people in the face of their trials and tribulations, pains and disappointments and anxieties, petty annoyances and acute sufferings. What is more, God places no conditions or restrictions on his love. Even when we might harden our hearts to his love and alienate ourselves from him, our heavenly Father stands ready and eager to heal our self-inflicted wounds and give us new life.
As Pope Benedict XVI taught, “Everything has its origin in God’s love, everything is shaped by it, everything is directed towards it. Love is God’s greatest gift to humanity, it is his promise and our hope” (Caritas in Veritate, 2). Truly then, we can affirm that “God is love” (1 John 4:8). In particular, his love is revealed to us in this way: “God sent his only Son into the world so that we might have life through him” (1 John 4:9).
The Church’s faith in God’s ever-present loving care and concern for each of us is fundamental for our lives – and a challenge too. The Lord’s way of loving, his attractive longing for humanity which is also totally self-giving, is also the measure of human love (Deus Caritas Est, 10-11). We too are called to gratuitousness in giving of ourselves for the good of others even when we may receive nothing in return (Amoris Laetitia, 102, quoting Luke 6:35, Matthew 10:8).
This is the first in a six-part series on the New Evangelization.