instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The man who suddenly got everything he'd always wanted

Did you ever know someone whose parents gave them everything they asked for? Didn't you hate them?

The second question probably makes more sense if you were thinking of someone who asked for pretty much everything they wanted. I hadn't thought about it before, but there's something very on point in calling someone who get everything they want "spoiled;" in such circumstances, fallen human nature does tend to go soft and rotten.

But what would it mean if someone really could get literally anything they might ask for from their parents? It wouldn't be enough for their parents to be rich -- just ask Veruca Salt. They'd need to be magical, like genies granting wish after wish. Or supernatural.

In fact, technically, they'd need to be divine. And not merely lesser gods in a pantheon, but that which all men speak of as God. Why? Because, by assumption, the child will be given literally anything asked for, and that can only be true if the parents are omnipotent, and omnipotence is a characteristic of God.

Moreover, the child himself participates in that omnipotence. He can cause literally anything he desires, not by his own sufficient power, but by directing the sufficient power of his parents. This may also apply to the parents; their omnipotence may be by participation as well, and even based on another's participation. It all works as long as the chain of participation terminates in God. And every link in the chain is in some sense divinized through participating in God's omnipotence.

So it seems when Jesus says, "Whatever you ask the Father in My Name He will give you," it's not merely a promise of answered supplications, but of divinization. The Father is the Father of those who remain in Jesus in a very real and direct and non-metaphorical sense, in a sense that is not true for those who do not remain in Jesus.

If I may extend the cultural reference, Jesus' promise means we get, not just the chocolate, but the chocolate factory. And that -- or rather, the promise of participation in the One Life whose word, "Let there be light," causes light to be is certainly something that bears repeating.