instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Friday, June 15, 2012

Do over

To those who might fret over their relationship with their parents, I say, "It's okay. It's impossible to have a relationship with your parents."

I say that because the word "parents" simply means "mother and father." "Your parents" has no being or existence distinct from the being and existence of your mother and your father. You have a relationship with your mother, you have a relationship with your father; there's nothing more or different when they're together with which to have a relationship.

The closer your parents are to each other, the more alike in temperament and interest and opinion, the more similar your relationships with each are. If you always see them together, then everything you experience with one of them, you experience with the other (which is not to say that you and your father relating in a given moment is identical to and indistinguishable from you and your mother relating in the same moment).

Now, someone who doesn't know your parents could be said to have a single relationship with them. Someone in the neighborhood could have the relationship of waving when they pass in a car; the power company, to broaden the sense of "someone," could be said to have a supplier-consumer relationship with your parents. But no one who knows them individually can have a corporate relationship with them.

The point of my previous post is that there is an analogous situation with your relationship with God. You can't have a relationship with "God," in the sense of the Three Divine Persons collectively, if you know the Three Divine Persons individually. And if you don't know Them, this limit on your knowledge of God will greatly limit your relationship with God.

Even Israel, God's own People, were limited in their relationship with God. They knew Him as Father and Redeemer and Sanctifier, but they didn't fully see that there is within God a distinction of Persons. This distinction isn't a curiosity or a minor point, either. To not know of God the Son is to not know, really, what it means to say that God is "Father;" it's to fail to appreciate the completeness and utterness with which God fathers. Israel knew, at least in her better moments, that the LORD loved her like a father, but it wasn't until the revelation of the Son that she could know just how weak that metaphor is, how much more there is to Divine Fatherhood than to human fatherhood -- and, therefore, how much more there is to the call to be children of God! We are called to be co-heirs with Christ. And, as pleasant as a land flowing with milk and honey might be, the Son's inheritance is nothing less than the fullness of the Father Himself.

We Christians, then, are crippling ourselves whenever we speak of, and still more when we pray to, God without reference to or thought of the individual Persons of the Trinity. The ancient formula, "Glory to the Father, through the Son, in the Holy Spirit," probably expresses what we would mean if we thought about it. By thinking about it, we will come to know each Divine Person better, and from better knowledge flows better love.