On the most recent Solemnity of Corpus Christi, I heard something in the familiar Gloria that I had never heard before. What struck me was calling the first Divine Person of the Holy Trinity “King” and then “Father.”
This particular Sunday I spoke the words of praise in my home with a televised Mass, observing spiritual communion with my parents due to the threat of Covid 19. My parents wanted to watch a different Mass than the one I wanted. Making a habit of keeping my mouth shut when they both agree on something, but really wanting what I want, I offered the quiet frustration as a sacrifice. And I think that this “offering up” helped put me in the right disposition. Willing to let go of my own petty thoughts and make the most of the moment, I focused my mind and heart on the Heart of the whole Liturgy.
Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to people of good will.
We praise you,
we bless you,
we adore you,
we glorify you,
we give you thanks for your great glory,
Lord God, heavenly King,
O God, almighty Father.
The Majesty of God is unfathomable to us mere humans. To speak of God as King is our best and highest (though still very limited) way of addressing God as supreme and sublime ruler of the universe, of all life, who divinely orders Creation by establishing both the laws of physics and morality. Besides the sadly overused title of “God,” we don’t have a higher human word than “King” to denote such superiority.
We Christians could have stopped at that kind of language. So then we would have God the King and, I suppose, Jesus would be God the Prince — but it would give the horribly wrong impression that God is ruler only. Christ didn’t speak like that. Christ didn’t live like that. Christ isn’t like that. So, in the very next line of the Gloria, we add to the title of King the title of Father.
This is what I heard that Sunday. Calling God King denotes a quid pro quo kind of relationship, a King-to-subject hierarchy of obedience. This isn’t untrue about God, but if this was the only way that we related to God, then we wouldn’t be living in the fullness of truth, we wouldn’t know the heart of God — or the truth of our own hearts. God would be a mighty, just, merciful, and generous ruler. A King, however, would not be expected to affectionately, intimately love each and every one of His subjects.
But a father…
A father, a true dad — Abba — loves his children with particular affection, is reliably present in their lives, protects them and seeks their best interests, guides them along life’s path, rescues them from danger, provides for their survival as well as their wholesome delights by lovingly sacrificing for their benefit, and shows them by his example what it is to be a good person. I know, because my this is my earthly father. (Extraordinarily so, being the self-giving father of a child with extraordinary needs. Read more about him HERE, HERE, and HERE.)
When we understand that this is God — Father, Abba —then we not only better understand who God is — love — but we also better understand who we are: God’s children. God’s Word made flesh reveals this truth to us, Jesus intimately relates to God as “Father” so that we can too. Through Christ, we are best able to respect, admire, and truly love God as an innocent child in rapturous affection for “daddy.” We are bound by love and particular affection to God, just as, oh wonder of wonders, God is bound by love and particular affection to us.
I Am My Father’s Daughter
A reflection from Kendra Tierney at Blessed Is She leads me to think further about inheritance, and what it means to be a child of God.
I know that through my earthly father I have been given a sense of humor, curiosity, and a generous sprinkling of “beauty marks” (a.k.a. moles. Thanks, Dad.) Through my heavenly Father … I am given the very ability to live in the endless joy of divine love, both now and forever.
My first ancestors sold humankind’s divine birthright of eternal life for the sake of their own finite desires, their self-centeredness. Because God loves me as a Father loves a child, however, He seeks to restore me to my inheritance. This God does through the Mystery of the Incarnation. God becomes one of us and, in becoming one of us, a very real human being has Almighty God as His father. The beautifully intimate relationship of parent and child is made between God and Man. Through God in the flesh, through Jesus, the Son of God, we are invited to be restored, to be born again as sons and daughters of God Most High.
“All that I have,” I hear God saying to the Only Begotten One, “is yours.” Inasmuch as we are united to Christ, becoming one with Christ in love, our divinely given identities as God’s children are fulfilled, and all that God has is ours. Through Christ, I am given the fruit of the Holy Spirit and divine inheritance: merciful restoration and eternal life.
I am the beloved daughter of the King.
This Father’s Day, I will be thinking with love and gratitude about the fathers in my life — Dan Chase most especially, as well as every priest who has ministered to me — mindful that they are blessings in my life precisely because they image the divine love of God.
© 2020 Christina Chase
(Beginning next week, I will share my recent prayers for humble Christian witness. It will be a Sacred Heart summer.)
Feature Photo of little me taken by my dad © 1978 Dan Chase
Although crippled by disease, I'm fully alive in love. I write about the terrible beauty and sacred wonder of life, while living with physical disability and severe dependency. A revert to the Catholic faith through atheism, I'm not afraid to ask life's big questions. I explore what it means to be fully human through my weekly blog and have written a book: It's Good to Be Here, published by Sophia Institute Press.