- Fr. John Jennings
Our God: A Generous Loving Parent
Visiting a new mom as she cradles her new-born in the maternity ward. Watching the eyes of new parents as they gaze on their new child. On the street, hearing a mom speak to her 10-month old in a stroller. Seeing parents in a park as they see their 3-year old running in a circle. Observing a dad as he listens to the many “what is…; why are… and how does…” questions from his 5-year old. Later, experiencing the patience of a parent as they watch what their 13-year old does. Parents at their daughter’s wedding. Grandparents as they first hold their grandchild. Wonderful images of real love, in life-changing ways. Reflections of God’s generous love for us.
God is hard to describe in human language. The efforts we make to do so always fall short. About the best we can do is to describe God with the human qualities we have, just more of them. None of this, however, is satisfying. God is not us, not human. God does not judge, like we do. God does not demand our attention, like we do. God does not wait until we ask, like we do. God does not limit love, like we do, and so on, and so on.
God does, however, speak to us. The language of God is often best seen in what we experience, in the images that are all around us. The wonder of the universe, the amazing harmony that we sometimes see in Creation these are expressions of God’s loving presence among us. The same we can notice in something so close to us as our own humanity. The evolution of humanity and the other creatures that surround us speak to us of the life-giving love of our God.
As well, God has spoken to us in the person of Jesus. This is one of the principal lessons from what we call the Incarnation. Our Scriptures repeatedly point out the significance of this wonderous act of God, as a sign of generous love. The Gospel of John has Jesus expressing this to Nicodemus, a leader of the community: “God so loved the world that he gave us his only Son so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
At the center of Jesus message is the image of our God whose love is abundant, who gives generously. Take a careful look at the parable of Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel.(Matt.20:1-16) Jesus relates the story of a landowner who goes out at various times throughout the day in order to hire workers. At the end of the day, no matter what time they started work, all of them receive the same daily wage. It comes as a surprise to all and those who worked from the very start of the day complain that it was unjust. The response of the landowner is to point out his generosity.
This is a parable about the Kingdom of God. There is no limit or demand that God sets to enter the reign of God. It is all generosity and gift. This is our God. Any Christian community is called to reflect this reign of God. All are invited, all are to be welcomed with the same warmth into the Kingdom and into the community, even those who have drifted or turned away. Such a reign of God is a revelation of God’s unconditional love.
There is no limit or restriction on God’s love. There are no locked gates for the Kingdom of God. It is always a gift, given out of love. A Christian community is called to reflect and express this open and inclusive love. As communities of Christians, this is who we are – reflections of our God, a loving parent.
As a member of this Christian community
do I express open and inclusive love to all?